Category Archives: Hospital

The Conversation is about Death: Thanatology Café.


Thanatology Café will meet on Saturday, April 9, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. at the RCS Community Library, 95 Main Street, Ravena, New York.


The experience of a death brings with it a host of emotions including anxiety, loss, sadness, depression, and anger, and many more. You need to talk to someone about these experiences but it has to be someone who is nonjudgmental, who knows how to listen, who has had similar experience and wants to share your pain. We call that person a wounded helper.

heart to heart


When my husband was killed, I felt an overwhelming sense of isolation, anxiety, anger. As I made my way through my daily and weekly routines, I felt weighed down by something I really couldn’t put my finger on it. Then I heard about Thanatology Café and decided to give it a try even though I was never one to sit and share in a discussion group. Now I am amazed by how much I look forward to the monthly two-hour gathering and to the occasional “extraordinary” session when I can sit in a room with others who truly understand are want to hear about what I am going through. We wounded healers have met have become so special to each other and share such strength and support. I don’t feel so alone because I realize others suffer, too, but differently. In this room with our facilitator and my companions, I have the courage to face life and death, to talk about it, to heal, and to laugh again.” [Anonymous]


The quote above describes a very common sentiment, one that you may be experiencing when thinking about joining the Thanatology Café group. The death of someone close to you suddenly and violently changes your life. You are faced with a multitude of emotions all at once, with unpleasant experiences, hard decisions, and unexpected changes that need to be confronted and managed; the unthinkable has to be assimilated into what was once a normal life but is now a life changed forever.

To read, print or download my complete essay, click this link A discussion group_who needs it_handout.

Thanatology Café Rev. Ch. Harold Principal Facilitator

Thanatology Café
Rev. Ch. Harold
Principal Facilitator

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A Thanatology Café Guide to Communication


Thanatology Café will meet on Saturday, April 9, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. at the RCS Community Library, 95 Main Street, Ravena, New York.


we will listenHow do we communicate in a group like Thanatology Café?

Well Part of our task is to learn how to communicate effectively in a group. Most of the time we find ourselves talking. It’s like we have two ears and one mouth and the mouth has to work twice as much to keep up with the ears. Problem is, we don’t use our ears for much anymore except to listen passively to the television pundits, talking heads, and, of course, we need someplace to plug in the ear buds to isolate ourselves from the very thing we are attempting to re-create at TC, community.

We live in what holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Victor Frankl would call an “existential vacuum,” where most people live without a real purpose and try to fill the vacuum with neurotic pursuits. Sound familiar?

Well, the success of Thanatology Café depends on active listening, not passive listening, so we’d like to share some listening suggestions to make our journey together more effective and to ensure that we achieve our purpose of effective communication, learning, healing and growth.

My first tip for better communication would be the statement,

Communication is about listening and talking.

Not listening to talk, which is what most people do. They listen for a pause so that they can start talking, even if they aren’t really responding to what was said. Sometimes it’s like being at Planet Fitness and having some juicebag on the phone broadcasting his or her side of a conversation. It’s a monologue and no one seems to care what’s being said, they just have to use those free minutes. That’s not what we do at Thanatology Café.

We listen actively and deeply  to what our conversation partners are saying, and we want them to do the same for us. Right?

Listening is not passive. Being a good listener is a skill that requires patience and practice. A compassionate listener …

  • listens with the ears of the heart (a lot of what’s
  • sits quietly (but comfortably, assume an interested posture)
  • avoids unnecessary distracting activity (don’t fidget, don’t start grabbing for the beverage, and don’t you dare reach for that phone)
  • doesn’t interrupt (even when there’s a longish pause)
  • lets the other person express an entire thought or feeling (this may not be orderly expression and it may take sime time)
  • acknowledges understanding by repeating back statements (this ensures that your conversation partner knows you are listening with a purpose)

As a good listener you can show interest and support with …

  • eye contact (don’t stare but do occasionally make contact with your eyes)
  • nodding the head (don’t be one of the bobbing creatures you see in a rear window but do nod occasionally in affirmation of what you’re hearing)
  • reaching out and touching (read the body language first; touching may be welcome but it may also be intrusive or even offensive)
  • ask if you can give a hug at an appropriate time in the conversation
  • make supportive statements (see below for some examples).

Thanatology Café is a safe, sacred space. What is said in a Thanatology Café converstation stays in Thantology Café. Each person must feel safe to talk and must have the freedom to express feelings, needs, and concerns, whatever they may be. We are conversing about what might be the last taboo in our culture, death. We’re discussing a topic that for some people means suffering, pain, emotional turmoil, and something they’ve been taught to deny rather than to acknowledge in our society.

Be non-judgmental and supportive.

We’ll be seeking and hearing a lot about feelings. Feelings include opinions, beliefs and pure emotions (many opinions and beliefs are highly emotionally charged). Because these opinions and beliefs, like emotions, usually come from very deep in the speaker, they should not be judged as bad or good. They are what they are. Sometimes the speaker expresses them intentionally and sometimes they come out unexpectedly. We’re listeners, not analists, and we’re not talking to each other to be judged, but to understand and to grow spiritually.

Expressions of feelings or concerns should begin with “I” statements. We are not here to give policy statements or to persuade or convert anyone. What you say is yours and you need to take ownership of it.

Here are just a few examples of supportive statements you will be using and hearing during your conversations:

  • I hear what you’re saying.
  • I understand.
  • I care about what you think and feel.
  • I don’t know what you need; help me understand.
  • I’m here for you; we’re all here for each other.
  • Your feelings are yours and I’ll listen if you’ll share with me.
  • I’m trying to understand you, please help me do that.

There’s much, much more to conversing, sharing effectively. One of the first things we need to do is decide to let down our shields, we have to accept permission to be vulnerable, we have to learn to trust. We’ll do our very best to try to create an atmosphere that will make these important steps easier, but every participant in the conversation has to decide for himself or herself when the time is right. It’s OK to just listen; you’ll know when you have something to say. Sometimes silence is a very expressive statement. This is just a starter; we’ll learn so much more during our sessions.

Research by David Macleod shows that the most important enabler for employee engagement is that they ‘feel listened to’. The ‘feel’ in ‘feel listened to’ comes from the above kind of listening, particularly the heart and undivided attention.

Chinese Character for Listening

Chinese Character for Listening

Thanks for listening!

the-first-duty-of-love-is-to-listen

Please click here to read, print or download a short Thanatology Café_Assuring Better Communication handout.


Thanatology Café: Where the conversation is about death.


Church and clergy have fallen flat on their faces when it comes to supporting the bereaved in their difficult moments of loss. Scripted, cookie-cutter rituals and services, bland remarks, formulaic prayers all serve to leave the bereaved high-and-dry at a time when they need empathy and presence. A new opportunity for bereavement ministry is being offered in a unique program called Thanatology Café.

Thanatology Café: Where the conversation is about death, is being launched in Ravena, at the RCS Community library, 95 Main Street, Ravena, New York.

Be sure to mark the date: Saturday, April 9, 2016, 2-4 p.m. The program starts promptly at 2:00 p.m. so don’t be late. There will be light refreshments.

The organizers do ask that you sign up at the RCS Community Library using the sign-up sheets available there. You can also sign up at thanatology.cafe@gmail.com. When you sign up via email, you’ll receive an initial registration form that you should fill out and bring with you to the program on April 9.

What is Thanatology Café?

We thought you’d never ask!

joke's over


Thanatology: [than-uh-tol-uh-jee] the study of death and dying, and bereavement, especially the study of ways to understand the coping mechanisms, meaning-making, transcendence and transformation to support the bereaved and mourners, and to lessen suffering and address the needs of the dying and their survivors.


It’s a  totally unique program and it’s called

Thanatology Café.

It’s a place where anyone can come in and talk about their thoughts, concerns, and interests centering on death and dying, bereavement, grief, society and death, spirituality and death, the death industry, our responsibilities as human beings who will die some day.

Thanatology Café is a safe place to talk about the ultimate mystery and to share thoughts and concerns about death and dying. It’s a place where you won’t be judged, no agenda will try to convert you or attempt to sell you something. It’s neutral ground, a sacred space where you can open your heart and mind to benefit everyone.

Thanatology Café will also be a source of valuable information from professionals who work in the field of death and dying. The program will include speakers, presenters, or even a film for discussion. But most of the time it will simply be a place to freely express ideas and thoughts, to share with the entire group or in smaller groups working off their own energies, monitored by a facilitator.

Thanatology Café is going to be offered in at least four counties: Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Greene to start. Since community libraries are centers for education and information and are central to most communities, the organizers will be holding the regular monthly sessions in community libraries throughout the area. There will also be other sessions for special interests or to organize special events like tours etc. to historic sites. One such site is Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, where Uncle Sam is buried along with a slew of other historic figures. But the crematorium chapel is a must see and TC is working on a tour for sometime in May or June 2016.

Thanatology Café is an important resource for first responders, church bereavement groups, bereavement ministries, and even funeral directors (TC will host several presentations by funeral directors with Q&A sessions).

Thanatology Café is for everyone and the invitation is open to anyone who needs or wants to talk about death, dying, grief, mourning, spirituality, traditions and superstitions, the funeral business. The field and conversation is wide open. Only the participants will decide.

Click the link to visit the Thanatology Café blog.

Don't be one. Join us at Thanatology Café on April 9th, RCS Community Library. The Editor

Don’t be one. Join us at Thanatology Café on April 9th, RCS Community Library.

The Editor


Pastor or Chaplain, or Both?


Is There a Distinction that Needs to be Drawn Between a Practicioner’s Playing the Role of Pastor or that of Chaplain?

I was a bit bemused by the persistence of the tendency to Bible-thump one’s way through any such discussion

I recently engaged several colleagues on the question of chaplaincy or pastoring. I was a bit bemused by the persistence of the tendency to Bible-thump one’s way through any such discussion, while advocating an interfaith approach as advanced by the adherents of the CPE agenda. I thought I’d share my contribution to the discussion.

listen-with-heartIt is my contention that we should not advance the notion of a “versus” or “as opposed to” when discussing chaplaincy or pastoring. While it is true that some traditions, the Hebrew and Islamic, for example, eschew the notion of “pastor” or “shepherd” for cultural or traditional, even ethical reasons, in the broader sense all chaplains are in fact “pastors,” while all pastors (in the conventional sense) are not necessarily “chaplains” (or critically speaking, even pastors!). In fact, I object in principal to the biased terminology we so frequently use in our vocations, “pastoral care” department, because it tends to be exclusive. I personally prefer spriritual care provider (although in my professional materials I do use pastoral care). Moreover, most people, even those in the vocation, tend to associate pastoral with pastors and thus with some sort of clergy or ordained service provider (usually with no questions asked and we all know about the profanation of ordination); that in itself is a misfortune for all concerned. But the much-touted CPE doesn’t do much to clarify the issues for interns or residents, and we still see chaplains “certified” by the self-proclaimed arbitors of chaplaincy who are just as ignorant after several years of “education” as they were before.

A case in point is taken from the scenario presented by the initiator of the discussion who describes walking into a Jewish patient’s room with a Christian clerical collar, which I characterized as benign “ignorance” but in reality was outright insensitive and would indicate that the “chaplain” in question did not do any initial preparation before launching out on rounds or visitations.clerical collar pc I might fraternally suggest that in future, whether you are a chaplain or a pastoral care associate, to check the chart briefly or dialogue with the nurse assigned to that patient before you visit. The offending chaplain actually says that he was aware that the patient was dying and had no family, so it seems rather odd that the chaplain did not appreciate the patient’s faith tradition and, if it wasn’t in the chart, that he didn’t consult with the immediate caregiver (nurse or LPN).

I also questioned the fact that the visiting chaplain was aware that the man was “Jewish”. Being Jewish immediately identifies one as being associated with a certain cultural, socio-religious tradition, after all, one does not call one’s self “Jewish” except to identify one’s self as a Jew. So this also raises the question of whether the chaplain in question was indifferent to the possibility that this dying man might have welcomed a visit by a rabbi, or that the chaplain did not make or offer to make a referral. Such sensitivity may have been a great comfort to the man, who might have found great refuge in his tradition and prayers. So I identify a boundary issue in this behavior, too; an issue of knowing one’s limits.

This situation also sends up red flags in that it clearly indicates that the institution did not do a spiritual assessment of this patient, much less a spiritual evaluation or history, which also reveals a glaring ignorance of the now widely inaugurated JCAHO and HIPA scoring categories relating to patient spiritual care.

The scenario I describe above should be instructive to us all and I thank the so-called chaplain for the inadvertent teaching/learning moment he has provided.

Finally, in the dying process I don’t feel there’s a heck of a lot of “pastoring” left to be done, unless it’s for the survivors. In my experience, in end-of-life situations I am more of a presence and spiritual guide/companion. While that may arguably be part of pastoring in a general sense, I feel that the actual mission of pastoring contrasts in praxis with the mission of spiritual accompaniment at end-of-life or in an existential crisis.

plant in handIt’s rather like the difference between evangelization and catechesis, if you have that in your tradition. One takes care of the basics and gets the seed started (evangelization), the other (catechesis) ends in the care and nurturing to harvest time.

Listening to hearAnother colleague mentioned in a rather cliché fashion with which we are all familiar when listening to the CPE crowd, that CPE trains one to listen. I disagree with such responses such as “CPE “teaches” one to listen.” I’m not quite sure how that works but in my divinity training and three years of supervised pastoral formation, and my participation in and disappointment with a rather popular CPE program in a large trauma center in Albany, New York, which fell far short of even my minimum aspirations, I don’t think that people can be “taught to listen” they may listen, but they don’t listen deeply. I know that from experience the deep listening skill comes from deep within one’s self, once one is comfortable with one’s self, and can leave one’s self for the time it takes to absorb and process the patient’s narrative. It’s that kind of listening that might be part of qualifying an aspirant to be spiritual care provider but it certainly isn’t the be all and end all.

The serene face of the large Buddha his long wise curvaceous ears at once loving and open to the woes of the world: Compassionate.

The serene face of the Buddha, his long wise curvaceous ears at once loving and open to the woes of the world: Compassionate.

Deep listening is the act of sinking into a serene quiet place, and awakening a receptive awareness of the other. By entering quiet and becoming aware of the other, we move out of and beyond our ego-driven chaos to become open to the divine messages within us and shared with us by the other. Imagine the irony here is that we so often complain of the pain of not having been heard, but we are so guilty ourselves of being deaf to, not hearing the innate wisdom from within ourselves and shared with us by others. When we learn to accept emptiness, when quiet, we instinctively trust in the guidance of sacred voices far more profoundly than what our bullying brains and the busy buzz of life would have us hear. And we listen, respond with silence.

In fact, having examined quite a number of CPE curricula and having developed continuing quality improvement curricula for the healthcare chaplaincy department, I find that the current CPE programs and their associated certification elements serve only to promote a burocratic and very branded form of “pastoral” care, and that branded product falls short of most suffering persons’ real needs. helpingIt’s the proprietary nature and standardization (viz. uniformization, homogenization) of the learning that deals the death blow to an appreciation (1) of the universal truths and values shared by all human beings, (2) the beauty in the diversity of traditions and how to appreciate and be enriched by a certain mutuality, (3) the possible pitfalls of an interfaith approach to faith traditions that may adhere very loyally to their dogmas. There are other reasons I could enumerate but regrettably (or fortunately for the readers) space is limited.

I think that an overwhelming majority, too, of CPE students come with excess baggage and too little self-death–I’ve observed interns, residents, even certified chaplains who have a great potential to do considerable damage…and do. The situation is not unlike seminary, you can do much to scrutinize, to form, to standardize but Whoa! when you turn them loose on the world, watch out! (A Roman Catholic diocesan priest, who also serves in the chancery tribunal, remarked ironically to me one day, “They’ll ordain anybody these days.” Which is probably true given the shortage of priests today.)

The so-called supervisors of the CPE programs almost invariable have their own biases and agendas, and these tend to impair good formation.
In some, not all instances, too, CPE programs have become “pay-to-work” programs in which minimally screened individuals, wet behind the ears and green, are turned loose on the floors to deal with sophisticated staff and human beings in existential crisis. I don’t feel that’s right. And I have also observed that interns are exposed to the same curriculum content for three or four years, and unless they have the academic predisposition to independently advance their armamentarium of experience through narrative and study, many don’t build their foundations. Some interns do not have theology or pastoral studies to help them through the necessary processing, and almost all have a depraved Western bias to their spirituality that tends to act as a speed bump when offering care to Non-western recipients. These programs tend to be “chaplain mills.” CPE does not fit the bill on its own to form professional, well-rounded spiritual care providers, but does excel in churning out multitudes of volunteers for greedy institutions. That may be one of the reasons it has survived this long.

On another level, some practitioners involved in the discussion advocated that the “Gospel” or, by extension, holy scriptures, has no firm place in chaplaincy. I do differ in that the fundamental ethics of the “Gospel” (not as understood principally by the evangelicals or fundamentalist among us) is a major part of chaplaincy. servant leadershipI cite particularly the beatitudes and the teaching of discipleship and servant leadership (chaplaincy is certainly not limited to the sick and dying but to the suffering generally). While I abhor the notion, and even more so the practice of proselytizing to captive audiences, and would hasten to emphasize that evangelization and catechization is not a fundamental role of the chaplain, ethics, discipleship, and servant leadership all play a special role in the myriad activities of the professional chaplain. (Note also that I do distinguish between the “professional chaplain”, the pastoral/spiritual care associate, and the visitor providing spiritual support.) To advocate that the truths and values espoused by the “Gospel”, the holy scriptures of any faith or spiritual tradition might have no place in chaplaincy is to advocate a position, I believe, of a chaplaincy practice devoid of ethics (and religion) (I do realize that this is a particularly “Christian” approach and my Judaic, Islamic and Buddhist colleagues may not necessarily agree with the religion-ethics statement, but I make the statement here somewhat loosely for convenience sake).

I’m not judging colleagues in chaplaincy or Clinical Pastoral Education too severely at all. In fact, I’m simply sharing my own observations and opinions based on personal experience. I am not a bit surprised when some readers tend to take these observations personally, as if they were meant to make an ad hominem stab at the straw[wo]men of CPE; I usually anticipate that persons in our line of work have a bit more self-awareness not to take every facially severe remark as a lancet thrust to the heart, however.

Rather than play an offended person’s role, perhaps we all would benefit by admitting that we may have learnt something about one’s self as through another’s eyes.

We Respond, We don't React.

We Respond, We don’t React.

Our role is to humbly respond, not to knee-jerk react. After all, to paraphrase the prophet Martin Luther King, Jr.: ‘We are all wrapped in the same cloth…when we directly hurt another we indirectly hurt ourselves.” (I do hope I did that statement justice!). So, when one party to the conversation called such a response arrogant, and a failure to simply accept some responsibility in relationship to colleagues’ responses, I merely responded, “My point indeed. The mouth loves the feel of words.” Instead we minimize, rationalize and justify our behavior, making certain to protect one’s self. This particular correspondent insists that “our patients have thick enough skins to handle a collar.”panda overload My response was tantamount to the fact that I don’t think that we have any right to expect patients to have “thick skins.” Some practitioners in pastoral care seem to admit patients’ strengths but underestimate their sensitivity and vulnerability. Many of the patients I see have lost their thick skins and in fact are pretty bruised in terms of dignity, autonomy, fortitude, patience, etc. I see no reason to add another straw to the pile. And Yes! It’s not about us, it’s about patient-centered, family-focused, inter- and multi-disciplinary care.

bedside prayerWhen we adopt such an approach we appreciate that, whereas many of our colleagues practice their spiritual care ministry in acute care settings or in crisis settings, many colleagues may find themselves–particularly in the scenario of the long-term care setting–in the position of playing both the role of chaplain and pastor to some residents in those longer-term care facilities. Regrettably, many of these residents lived their lives unchurched or churched with infrequent interaction with their faith community; more regrettably, some faith communities have disappeared or simply no longer continue a ministry of visitation of the sick and homebound who were once part of their faith community. It’s in such situations that the chaplain may very well become the pastor, and have to function in both roles. I don’t feel that this should be a major stumbling block nor even a concern to the well-formed spiritual care provider, who is responding to a true call to spiritual care ministry.

We're all wrapped in the same cloth...

We’re all wrapped in the same cloth…


It’s No Longer a Question of Social Justice…It’s a Question of Amorality!


While New York Governor Cuomo is eroding the rights and morals of American citizens and patriots in New York, his bedfellow in Washington, Obama, is promising rights to illegal immigrants!

Obama_Immigration_Policy

The Illegals’ Choice!
The Arriba! President

Obama’s Got Something for Everyone
(but can’t deliver anything)

You're the target!

You’re the target!

The United States Congress Took More Than 90 Days to Pass Funding to Aid those Suffering from the Rampage of Hurricane Sandy…It Took Mere Days to Push Through the TARP Bailout funding for the Banks and Corporations Whose Dishonest Practices Caused the Recession We’re Still In. Where Do You Think this Government’s Priorities Are? Do You Really Think That King Obama or the Crooks in Congress Thought to Postpone Aid to Israel and Divert those Millions a Day to Americans Suffering the After-effects of Sandy? Where do WE, as citizens, actually figure in Big Brother’s worldview? Not only are the Coeymanazis eroding your rights but the unconstitutional, immoral criminality appears to be trickling down from the New York State Legislature and our Mafioso Governor, Andrew Cuomo! Read on, if you dare…


You may want to print out a copy of this article and send it to Governor Cuomo and to your elected legislators (state and federal) as an statement of protest! Send a link of this article to your relatives, friends, neighbors so that they also know the true facts. Thank you!


Closer to Home, Our Darling Governor Andrew Cuomo Has Been Trying to Collect Brownie Points by Harvesting Political Capital over the Bodies of Dead Children.

(Bad Move, Andy! Your Popularity Plummeted a Serious 15 Points!)

The Face of Attitude.Cuomo to Citizens & the Constitution: Go F*** Yourselves!

The Face of Indifferent Arrogance.
Cuomo to Citizens & the Constitution:
Go F*** Yourselves!

Andrew Cuomo and His DINOs (Democrats In Name Only; there’s not an iota of democracy in them) is a political whore and worse still, he’s turned prostitute: He’s selling principle for politics!

Here’s how:

It looks like Andy Cuomo can’t wait to become President (Yes! That’s Cuomo’s latest crazy wet dream.) before trashing the United States Constitution, Cuomo rushes the SAFE law through the rubber-stampers in the New York State Legislature, trashing the 2nd Amendment and the right to own firearms, using the imagery of dead children, not logic, to bypass any public input. IMPEACH CUOMO and give the DUMBASS RUBBER-STAMP LEGISLATORS the BOOT!

Of course the dimwit liberals and the pablum-puking bleeding hearts are going to say, “Great! Who needs guns anyway?” Of course, the police and law enforcement are just creaming their jeans at the thought of citizens without defense! But the real point is this: non-criminals obey the law and acquire guns and ammunition lawfully. It’s the criminals who will get all the guns and ammunition they need by whatever means necessary–and it’s the criminals who kill people! If the police and other law enforcement were doing their jobs they would be catching the criminals and seizing the illegal firearms. But no, that’s not in the plan, instead they’re out on the streets harassing and coercing generally law-abiding citizens and dragging them into court on…traffic violations and for smoking weed or some old-fashioned domestic ruckus. Just read the police blotters.

Forget the so-called War on Drugs–it was and continues to be a smoke screen– (they know where the crack houses are and where the dealers are but use them as bait for the dumbasses who drive thru the areas. After all, it’s the dumbasses who get stopped, it’s the dumbasses who have the cars to impound, the assets to seize, and it’s the dumbasses who will hire the defense lawyers at their own expense (the drug dealers don’t usually have cars, run like hell and get away, don’t have assets, and get public defenders!)).

Cuomo's got a fish story for you...and I have a bridge to sell you.

Cuomo’s got a fish story for you…and I have a bridge to sell you.

And talking about traffic tickets, our darling NYS governor has yet another citizen-hating scheme to cover the state’s crazy spending:

traffic ticketCuomo now is telling the Judicial Branch, the Courts, how to decide in traffic cases. In other words, Andrew Cuomo, the Executive Branch, has already commandeered the wussies in our State Legislature to dump the 2nd Amendment rights of New York citizens, and now is violating another well-established–or so we were taught to believe–concept of American freedom: the Separation of Powers! The Executive branch (governor, attorney general, district attorneys, police and other law enforcement), was to be separate from the Legislative and Judicial branches. This ensured the necessary “checks and balances.” But now, Cuomo is instructing judges not to plea bargain traffic violations such as speeding tickets, and wants to impose mandatory fines and force judges to collect money for the state. Of course, his office denies that this will cost local government anything because they will be free to impose surcharges, in addition. This is a direct violation of the doctrine of separation of powers and the principle of “checks and balances.” It’s a total smokescreen and is designed to squeeze even more money out of citizens for a totally bankrupt and corrupt government in Albany. IMPEACH CUOMO and the career politicians before they start drawing their outrageous pensions!

its outright theft legislation

New York State’s Robbing You Of Your Rights!

We have previously published an interesting article on town and village courts and how ignorant the justices are and how primitive the justice (I shudder to use that term when referring to these kangaroo courts) meted out. Read Justice in Name Only: Town and Village Courts for a real eye-opening exposé of the town and village court system in New York.

I don’t know about you but I am offended by the government’s jumping over dollars to pick up pennies, and digging further into my pockets to offset shoddy management!

But the disgusting hypocrisy and immoral deceit doesn’t stop there, Cuomo has plans for the most despicable practices in the state: abortion!

But First Let’s Do A Little Quiz…

Quiz Question: Which of the above are children?

Quiz Question: Which of the above are children?

Answer: All of them are, or were, before the abortionist got to them!

Putting the murder of children in some perspective, let’s look at some real statistics and leave the politics and the emotional flooding out of the picture, just for a moment. Consider these numbers:

Ceaselessly in the news and on the politicians’ lips: 20 children killed in Newtown, CT (and 6 adults). But is that in perspective?

Now compare that with:
United States Abortion Statistics
54,559,615 abortions 1973–2011

Reported abortions in the United States, by year

The Alan Guttmacher Institute (a special affiliate to Planned Parenthood), which actively collects the abortion data directly from providers.  All numbers reported are voluntary; there are no laws requiring abortionists to report to any national agency the numbers of abortions they perform. 2009-2011 are estimates of 1,212,400 annually.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute (a special affiliate to Planned Parenthood), which actively collects the abortion data directly from providers. All numbers reported are voluntary; there are no laws requiring abortionists to report to any national agency the numbers of abortions they perform. 2009-2011 are estimates of 1,212,400 annually.

In the United States in 2011 more than 1,200,000 (that’s one million two hundred thousand) abortions were reported.

Need some more figures on abortion? We’ll be happy to satisfy your curiosity:

Americans’ views concerning abortion:

  • 79% do not support the current abortion-on-demand policy, saying abortion should be legal only in some circumstances (68%), or illegal in all circumstances (11%). (Marist Poll, December 2011)
  • 78% believe that women who have abortions commonly experience moderately severe to very severe negative emotional reactions to abortion. ( Medical Science Monitor, 2003)
  • 95% of women want to be informed of all risks of a medical procedure; 69% want to be informed of all alternatives. ( Journal of Medical Ethics, July 2006)
  • 64% of women who experienced one or more abortions “felt pressured by others” to have the abortion. (Medical Science Monitor, Oct. 2004)

So you ask yourself, Why do women have abortions?

  • 74% say having a baby would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities.
  • 73% say they cannot afford to have a child.
  • 48% say they do not want to be a single parent, or have relationship problems with husband or partner.
  • Less than 2% say they became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

(Source: The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Perspective on Sexual & Reproductive Health, Sept. 2005)

Those are some mightily compelling reasons to kill a child, wouldn’t you agree?

And I’d like to repeat: Those are the reported, official figures. The Chicago Tribune did a study and found some very scary facts:

“A great many abortions go unreported. In a recent report, a state system for monitoring abortions in Illinois reports that as many as 17,000 of the procedures may go unreported each year, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Chicago Tribune newspaper has released the details of a new investigative report revealing the number of abortions in the state has been massively underreported. Those numbers include six women who have died from botched abortions and 4,000 who were injured.”

“State abortion records full of gaps. Thousands of procedures not reported to health department. ”

(Source: June 16, 2011 by Megan Twohey, Chicago Tribune. The Tribune found: “State regulators have documented between 7,000 and 17,000 fewer abortions a year than a national research group found in Illinois.”)

The dismal statistics for New York, not New York state, New York City read like science fiction:

“2009 statistics for abortions in New York City found that “87,273 abortions in that year, meaning that 41 percent of all pregnancies that didn’t end in miscarriage were ended by abortions,” Lipsky explains. “In some ZIP codes and among African-Americans, the abortion rate reaches a ghastly 60 percent.

[In that same report: “For every 1,000 African-American babies born in the city that year, 1,448 were aborted. To the publication of these numbers the mayor [Michael Bloomberg] stood mute.” Does this sound like ethnic cleansing to you?]

(Source: “Andrew Cuomo’s Thirst for Killing More Babies in Abortions”, Dave Andrusko (Washington, DC: LifeNews.com (1/28/13))

Now, let’s look at some statistics about guns and gun deaths:

Mortality Figures for 2011 (US only)

(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deaths: Final Data for 2010, table 10, 11 Adobe PDF file [PDF – 3.1 MB])

All homicides

  • Number of deaths: 16,259
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 5.3

Firearm homicides

  • Number of deaths: 11,078
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 3.6

Mortality 2011

All injury deaths

  • Number of deaths: 180,811
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 58.6

Motor vehicle traffic deaths

  • Number of deaths: 33,687
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.9

All poisoning deaths

  • Number of deaths: 42,917
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 13.9

All firearm deaths

  • Number of deaths: 31,672
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.3

Compare to 1,200,000+ reported abortions in the US in 2011!

So, my point is this: Looking at what the Gutterman Institute study found as the reasons women have abortion and the official abortion figures for 2011, and comparing those figures (for example, 1,200,000+ abortions in 2011) with the firearm homicide figures for the same period (11,078 homicides) and the figures for motor vehicle deaths (33,687) and all firearm deaths (31,672), simple reasoning would say that if we proactively ban or want to control firearms because of the deaths they cause, we should be just as willing to ban or increase control over motor vehicles! After all, motor vehicle deaths in 2011 exceeded all deaths caused by firearms (self-inflicted, murder, accidents). And what is the next step? Background checks for new car purchases? Registration of gas purchases?

And, when you compare all deaths by injury in the US in 2011 (180,811) with the number of reported deaths by intentional abortion (killing the child) in that same period (1,200,000+ children), you really have to ask yourselves: “What is the big stink about 20 children being killed in Newtown, CT, and is it really fair to misuse that event politically to unlawfully deprive citizens of a constitutionally granted right?”

I am not a callous animal and I’m not trying to minimize the moral wrong or emotional effects of the Newtown, CT, tragedy. I empathize with those parents and the community just as much as I do with Iraqi, Afganistani, Egyptian, Mexican victims of insanity and crime. But the absolute and statistical numbers speak louder than I could ever attempt to do!

And so, we make a full circle back to deprivation of real rights and the interference of mindless criminal politicians to misuse events for their own agendas.

The reality is this: We have crazies on the streets because we threw them all out of the asylums a couple of decades ago. We have crazies on the streets because we send immature young men off to fight illicit oil wars and then abandon them when they come home nutz and with PTSD. We have crazies on the street because we elect them and put them in powerful positions and not in padded cells!

They all should be in an institution!

Your Rights Crying Out for Liberty!

It’s the crazies in government who are trying to tell us thinking, rational citizens that it’s not the inability of law enforcement to find and seize illegal firearms in the hands of gangs and criminals, nor the inability of law enforcement to stop the trafficking of ammunition for those illegal firearms, nor the inability of law enforcement to stop the influx of illegal weapons into this country…what they’re telling us is that those citizens who would obey the law anyway and are doing so right now, it’s those citizens who will be subjected to more intense scrutiny and tougher regulation! Go figure!

In fact, official government statistics collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the weekly Mortality and MobidityWeekly Report (August 6, 2010 / 59(30);957) actually show a decline in firearm deaths in the period of 1979-2007!

The figure above shows death rates for the three leading causes of injury death in the United States during 1979-2007. In 2007, the three leading causes of injury deaths in the United States were motor vehicle traffic, poisoning, and firearms. The age-adjusted death rate for poisoning more than doubled from 1979 to 2007, in contrast to the age-adjusted death rates for motor vehicle traffic and firearms, which decreased during this period. From 2006 to 2007, the age-adjusted poisoning death rate increased 6%, whereas the motor vehicle traffic death rate decreased 4%, and the firearms death rate did not change.

The figure above shows death rates for the three leading causes of injury death in the United States during 1979-2007. In 2007, the three leading causes of injury deaths in the United States were motor vehicle traffic, poisoning, and firearms. The age-adjusted death rate for poisoning more than doubled from 1979 to 2007, in contrast to the age-adjusted death rates for motor vehicle traffic and firearms, which decreased during this period. From 2006 to 2007, the age-adjusted poisoning death rate increased 6%, whereas the motor vehicle traffic death rate decreased 4%, and the firearms death rate did not change.

Click the link to the right for the Full 2010 MMWR Article:
3 leading causes MMWR August 6 2010_59(30)_957

But all the political rhetoric and misinformation, and the misuse of a tragedy to push through more controls over citizens is totally unjustifiable given the scientific information and the government’s own numbers! If you want to increase control over firearms the government will logically have to do the same for automobiles, since they kill more people every year than firearms!

A traditional business facing extinction?

A traditional business facing extinction?

It’s also those crazies in government who are now telling our judges, as useless as most of them are, how to judge cases, how to interpret the law! Why? Because Mr Andrew Cuomo thinks that they are not sending enough fine-money to Albany and keeping too much for the local municipalities. So Cuomo is going to turn around and legislate how the judges decide your next traffic ticket and deprive you of your opportunity for justice, the common plea bargain. Do you like it so far?

abortion_setupSo we’re all appalled by the deaths caused in single incidents by single assailants killing multiple people. Are we just as appalled by the deaths by automobile or poisonings? Don’t they get any attention? OK. Every year we kill more than 1,200,000 children but do it legally. It’s done by medical doctors who make a quick buck by murdering babies. If you don’t believe that they are murdering babies, let me redirect your attention to a very informative page that tells you a little about the stages of the developing child’s life in the womb, before some licentious bitch with a sorry excuse has some murderer in a white coat, dismember it, and the state (= YOU) pays for it. Are you pleased with yourself? Click here to read the Horror of Abortion.

Cuomo as Neo-Hitler

Neo-Hitler Cuomo

What’s even worse is that this Democrat government wants you to continue paying for this mass murder and that satan Andrew Cuomo and that devil Obama want to make it even easier to kill even full-term infants! But Cuomo isn’t anyone’s fool, he planned to pander the women’s vote by packaging the abortion rights measure in a women’s rights package that included proposals to assure equal pay, workplace rights, and bills combating abuse against women. At this point, Cuomo has tied all the measures together, requiring the Legislature to approve all or none of the proposals.

Hitler, using the same gestures, advocated a pure race by abortions, too!

Hitler, using the same gestures, advocated a pure race by abortions, too!

Far from advocating any lunatic politician in Albany, I would like to share a statement by Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos says the proposal is just wrong. Skelos, who runs the majority with six independent Democrats, calls Cuomo’s proposal an extreme measure from the radical left. Skelos also says the change isn’t needed in New York, where abortion is legal, paid for by Medicaid, and requires no parental notification. I repeat: in New York abortion is legal, it is paid for by Medicaid, and requires no parental consent. Hell, the government takes care of it all for you!

You may want to read an article I wrote on another blog, Opinion: Abortion Issues. As usual, it’s an in-your-face, wipe-your-nose-in-it factual statement.

And so, loyal readers, whether you agree with me or not, you do have to admit that we have some very weird and bizarre ways of thinking in order to make the world fit our lunacy. Do you feel any smarter now? Do you feel any differently now? Please say Yes!

But let me leave you with one very serious thought: The longer you stay silent, the longer you let the crazies in Albany and Washington, or even the crazies in the village or town hall, play with your rights, the more blood of innocents will be on your hands.

<big>Does this mean satan is reconciled with God?</big>The Editor

Does this mean satan is reconciled to God?
What does this image do for RC credibility? Absolutely zilch, nada!
(In the days of credibility he would have been burned at the stake!)
The Editor

cross and swastikaSo, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, are you still welcoming this hypocrite monster Cuomo to your liturgies, are you still allowing this demon to receive the sacraments alongside the pious faithful? How dare you! With the politics and hypocrisy, the pandering and the double-talk, is it any wonder that, like Cuomo’s approval ratings, you’re hemorrhaging numbers, too?!? And don’t smirk, Protestants, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and Jews; you’re all just as bad, but less visible!

Is this the real TRUTH?

Is this the real TRUTH?

Special Notice: We make every effort to be truthful, complete, fair, and balanced on this blog; therefore, if you see anything that you know to be false or incorrect, or if you have additional information to clarify any issue, please let us know by e-mailing your information or by leaving a comment. It’s very important to us that we don’t fall into the same category as those whom this blog is intended to expose. Thank you very much in advance for your cooperation and assistance!

You Are Not One Of US…


“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. (Mark 9: 38-41)

Pointing-finger

It would seem that Ms Kate Blain, editor of the Evangelist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, and her mentors are shooting themselves in the foot! Not ony is Ms Blain and her mentors exemplifying and incarnating all the worst street wisdom about Roman Catholics, and playing into the hands of their worst detractors, but they are also turning their backs to the best of the Christian Tradition in terms of encouraging good works and works of mercy and charity. Judging from Ms Kate Blain’s response, if it is truly the position of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, no one but those associated with a Roman Catholic parish or receiving the support (just what the nature of the support should be is unclear) are licitly or legitimately practicing a ministry in pastoral or spiritual care to the suffering. What a pile of crapola!

So, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s Evangelist refuses to publish an advertisement because the advertiser is “not working through any parish or with the support of the Albany Diocese,” according to Ms Kate Blain, editor of the Evangelist.
Always the curious one, I thought something was very fishy with this whole affair and so I picked up an Evangelist to check out some of the ads that are being run in the rag. Here’s just a sample:

Fidelis Care, selling health insurance plans
McDonough’s Farms, selling trees and wreaths
Silver Parrot, selling jewelry items
Ross and Visconti, a law firm specializing in family law, general law and wills
Celtic Treasures, selling Irish gifts
Joe Mazzone Antique Services, buys and sells antiques
Eddy Senior Living, a secular assisted living facility
Marra’s, sells home healthcare items
Falcon Trace, a secular “active adult community”
The Spinney at Pond View, cottage rental community
Romanation Jewelers, buys and sells gold
Eastwyck Village, retirement living
Ohav Shalom Apartments, independent senior living
Adirondack Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Delmar Place, assisted living residence
Bob Tahlam, Inc., basement and cellar work
Advanced Hearing Aid Centers
Shaker Pointe at Carondolet, independent senior living
Mr Fix It, plumbing, electrical, carpentry
Wesley Woodlawn Commons, assisted living
Accent, healthcare services
Visiting Nurses Healthcare
A&B Stairlifts
Albany Housing Authority, Senior Housing
The Lira Ensemble, polish music
W.J. Lyons Funeral Home Inc.
Stefanazzi & Spargo, monuments
Wm. J. Burke & Sons Funeral Home

Yes, we thought you’d be a bit surprised., and we’re none the wiser for the effort. There’s no rhyme or reason behind these advertisements, they cover a wide range of services unrelated to a parish and certainly don’t need diocesan support. In fact, the ads are supporting the diocese to some extent.

So we have to look elsewhere for an explanation why an advertisement for genuine and much-needed services would be canned by the Evangelist.

A big question looms large in this consideration: Is someone at our sacred and holy Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Pastoral Center playing a career assassination game? Are there personal or political motives behind the refusal. Does someone or several of our loving, charitable, good Christians at the Pastoral Center have an axe to grind with regard to the advertiser. It wouldn’t be the first time that some Church functionary saboutaged the work of ministry for personal reasons.Is this a form of cowardly punishment or retribution? But just the thought of the bad press, the damage to an already suffering image, the civil consequences that such stupid misconduct will entail is chilling.

This raises a number of troubling contradictions in this diocese, including but not limited to:

  • The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany sends its deacon candidates to a local secular hospital that epouses explicitly interfaith pastoral care to patients, and whose manager is of the Calvinist tradition, apparently loathes his own denomination (RCA, according to the AMC pastoral care manager, the “deformed” Church of America), and has no great love for Catholics, unless they’re female, “disgruntled””, outspoken and dissenting. Two Roman Catholic priests are on the hospital’s pastoral care team and paid by the RC diocese of Albany, and I have personally witnessed some very anti-Catholic and abusive treatment of those two clerics at the hands of some non-Catholics. Knowing the situation at the hospital and in the Pastoral Care department there, one wonders what the rationale is behind the diocesesan practice of sending deacon candidates to train there if interfait pastoral care is not supported by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
  • While I was completeing my master of divinity degree at the Roman Catholic school of theology and divinity supported by the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Albany (Bsp Howard Hubbard) and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester (Bsp Matthew Clark) and most recently in Syracuse, under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, my pastoral formation supervisor encouraged me to participate in the clinical pastoral education (CPE) program at Albany Medical Center, which I did. In terms of experience it was incredibly edifying, that is, in terms of the direct clinical experience on the floors. The personal experience with the supevisor and the peer experience was frustrating to say the very least. It was not the place for a traditional or conservative Roman Catholic or one with weak faith or one with no guts. I was surrounded by feminazis, Calvinists, and sociopathic “disgruntled” female Roman Catholics/Episcopalians; a male Catholic was chum in shark-infested waters = I didn’t have the chance of a snowball in hell unless I put up a very strong front, and I stood by my faith, my Tradition, and my ethics. So, if the Roman Catholic school of theology and ministry sends its students to participate in the interfaith program at Albany Medical Center, knowing the the program is promoting the interfaith model of pastoral care, how is it reasonable that the editor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s newspaper, Kate Blain, refuses to run an advertisement on interfaith pastoral care?

 

The Ultimate Perversion!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Female Gay Bishop!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
How Close are We?
The Ultimate Perversion!
Female Gay Bishop!
How Close are We?
  • The very school of theology and ministry I attended and which awarded me the master of divinity degree is a former Roman Catholic seminary college that went Guess what! Interfaith in order to survive. Right in the middle of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Pastoral Center we now find Roman Catholics sitting next to Baptists, Calvinists, Episcopalians reciprocally revealing their ignorance. Now the Protestants, Jews and Calvinists can experience first-hand the renowned infighting that goes on among Roman Catholics. They can, along with the now appalled traditional and conservative Catholics, experience the liberal priests and female religious dissenting, criticizing their Church, and hear the eunichs in the group pander to the instructors and to the wannabe women priests [and bishops]. Typical ambiguous and ambivalent American attitude, typical American “be politically correct or be shunned”, “How dare you have such an opinion!?!” type of Me First! exchange. But it’s all in the interest of unity, of ecumenism, of interfaith dialogue, of …or is it revenues?

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany appears to support the interfaith pastoral care effort…or does it?

(There are a number of discrepancies in the pastoral formation programs both in the diocese but most particularly at St Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry that require review and correction. Those discrepancies have nothing whatsoever to do with the supervisor/director of the program itself but the way the students’ projects are selected and executed leaves a great deal to be desired. But this is something that we shall take up with the accrediting body itself.)

The Roman Catholic Church has spent a great deal of ink writing about the importance of care of the suffering, the sick, and the dying but it seems that much of what is written and prmulgated is contradictory in one respect or another. Or, in its slavish dedication to the principle of subsidiarity, the Church has delegated much of its authority to self-serving, poorly catechized managers and underlings. The Pastoral Center of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany lacks overall leadership, although it is figuratively headed by a brilliant saint of a man, somewhere along the line the minions and the satans have usurped power over their domains and the Center has turned into a collection of feifdoms, the Evangelist obviously being one of them.

samaritan

Our beloved bishop Howard Hubbard (RC Diocese of Albany) and his brother bishop Matthew Clark (RC Diocese of Rochester) are both nearing retirement and their personal pastoral ministries have been phenomenal in terms of goodness, charity, brilliance, but their legacies will be remembered for their excess liberalism. The buzz is that at the Albany Diocese the greatest fear is that a conservative bishop will succeed Hubbard. If this happens, say Bye! to the fiefdoms, the self-serving monopolies and nepotism, and to the women religious who have pretty much taken over running the place.

It’s not the Holy Spirit that moves the Roman Catholic Diocese at Albany, it’s the cliques. And it’s high time the Diocese and the departments and parishes were returned to the Church, to be run in accordance not with liberal agendas but with the Roman Catholic Tradition and the Magisterium. It’s time Christian kerygma becomes the modus operandi and not personal agendas or the like. The idiotic grins are a poor cover-up for the envy, the paranoia, the anxiety, the ambition beneath. How has it reached such a point, I have to ask?

(It’s not just in Albany, either. I spent years nurturing relationships in a local Eastern rite parish, St Ann Maronite Catholic parish in Troy. scary-clownsFor more than a decade I was part of the parish life, grew to become very close to its former pastor and its parishoners. The pastor was transferred and I asked to do a year of my pastoral formation with the new priest who was very young, from Lebanon, and not long in the USA. The young priest had a poor command of English, very little parish experience (about 6 months unter the supervision of a senior priest down south), couldn’t preach to save his own soul, and was culturally inept (the Church in the Middle East is incredibly different in Traditions, organization, and in its participation in politics). The wet-behind-the-ears monk thought he knew everything, though, except integrity, honesty, humility, and inclusiveness. He openly spoke hatefully of Muslims with parishoners and was inauthentic. I confronted him, he ran to his bishop, his bishop ran to my bishop, this bishop supported him, my bishop asked me to cool it. That’s the way it goes: the bishops support their priests regardless of the damage. I disappeared and was demonized. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. But it shouldn’t have to be that way and wouldn’t be that way if the bishops would be bishops and stop pussyfooting around.)

According to the Chinese, “The fish rots from the head down.” Oh! How true! Look around you.

So, back to the Evangelist and editor Ms Kate Blain, now making policy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. What say ye, bishops?!?

Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” (Mark 9: 38-41) Is that really so? Are we still preaching this (I know I am).

animated candle small

What’s important here? The fact that one operates out of a parish or the fact that one has the “support of the diocese” ( read that as “has not invoked the perfidy of someone with some power at the diocesan offices”). Who is this Kate Blain to make the determination that one does not have the support of the diocese. And if that is true, why does the Roman Catholic Diocese not support qualified spiritual care regardless of company or special-interest connections.

I’d be happy to discuss this dilemma with anyone from the Pastoral Center. Just give me a time and a date. According to Saint Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry which awarded me the “gold standard” professional degree in pastoral and theological studies, the Magister Divinitatis, which I received from the hand of bishop Matthew Clark and the co-authentication of bishop Howard Hubbard, I should be qualified to engage in such a debate…and to provide qualified pastoral and spiritual care regardless of the faith or Tradition of the recipient.

But there’s still the question of why the editor of the Evangelist refuses to run my ad that is in full accord with express Church doctrine and policy, with the explicit teachings, and with the promulgations of the USCCB? Do we have female bishops in the RC Church already? Yes. But not officially, it seems.

Please share your thoughts on this subject matter. And stay tuned for the next installment: a discussion of Church teachings on the care of the suffering, sick, and dying (and how it’s falling on it’s egg-stained face).

Shut up! And do your homework!The Editor

Shut up! And do your homework!
The Editor


Pastoral Care Debacle…


As A Pastoral Care Provider and As A Consumer of Pastoral Care Services in Hospitals and Nursing Homes We Have An Obligation to Be More Critical and Ask More Questions. We Must Have A Voice.

We Must Ask Critical Questions!

Over the years I have done a great deal of reading, research, and critical thinking about pastoral care, spiritual support, chaplaincy and have come to some conclusions. Some of these conclusions are disturbing, others are illuminating, some are constructive, others are serious wake-up calls. So let me throw a couple of them out and get some feedback from my pastoral care colleagues and from some of our readers who may be on the receiving end of our well-meant efforts.

Pastoral care used to be the ministry of the clergy or at least the pious religious, usually in monasteries or in hospitals run by religious orders. The theory was basically to perform acts of mercy, to provide spiritual encouragement and guidance, to attempt to alleviate suffering, and to make the transition from life here to life in the hereafter somewhat easier. Not much has changed from say the 13th century to the 21st century, despite the fact that we’ve had more than 800 years to re-evaluate and update our operations.
From my perspective, pastoral care continues to be a ministry but more than that it is a vocation, a calling. True, we in professional chaplaincy have professional degrees in theological studies, pastoral studies or have even gone through studies leading to the advanced degrees of master of divinity or a doctorate in ministry. Some have succumbed to the lobbying and the arrogance of the 20th century’s panacaea, its answer to everything: certification. But this notion of lobbying and influence peddling, of certification, though well-intentioned enough, has gone awry and has become merely another MBA scheme. Far from its original intention of benefitting the recipient of pastoral care it has become yet another way to promote questionable ideologies, to form cliques, to push political agendas, to become esclusive in too many ways. In fact, by virtue of the numbers, the whole system of certification of pastoral care providers has become almost fraudulent; indeed, many of those certified have forgotten the humility and discipleship that underscores the authentic pastoral care provider and have become mini-celebs, or the divine’s personal liaison to the suffering.

This problem, and a problem it is, is not primally that of the novice who enters the tutelage of a so-called “certified supervisor” in a “certified clinical pastoral education” program, but is created and perpetuated by individuals with an agenda and a mission: that of notoriety and recognition, of being the one who has made pastoral care a bonum fides entity in holistic healthcare delivery. Half-baked didactics, half-hearted supervision, checking the text messages and emails, rushing off to this or that committee meeting, Oops! off to a conference, politicking for that grant or those funds, prettying up the place for the site visit, etc. forms the day-to-day routine of the “certified supervisor.” The intern is left pretty much on his or her own after having paid up to about $700 just to be an intern! What’s worse, the hospital gets reimbursed for the services performed!

In this entire process, however, something is missing. Sure there’s structure. Of course there’s “standards.” And yes, there is the opportunity to learn a great deal on the floors and about one’s self but little thought is actually given to the effects on the recipients of the pastoral care being delivered–and that pastoral care, if we can throw that term about somewhat carelessly, does vary enormously depending on the intern’s background, faith tradition, education, and experience.

All too frequently, as in any hierarchical, corporate organization you’ll go far in terms of the certification process if you don’t buck the supervisor, if you don’t question his or her doctrines and dogmas, if you don’t have any thoughts of your own, if you prostrate yourself before the supervisor, and your don’t ask too many questions–and you’ll fare much, much better if you keep your mouth shut and play stupid. Just be corporate and know your “boundaries.”
Hospitals and nursing homes, despite what we read in the professional journals, play loosey-goosey with pastoral care. Most have no clue what a professional pastoral care minister is and they’re happy in their ignorance. Ask around, if you’re curious or looking for placement or even looking for a care facility for yourself or a loved one and you’ll be shocked to find that pastoral, religious, spiritual care is tucked away between personal laundry services and janitorial services, or is included in the activities department with ballroom limping and paper flower making, or is simply relegated to the volunteer department. In other words, one of the most important aspects of the suffering person’s pilgrimage through bereavement, pain, illness, his or her anxiety and existential questions are largely ignored in favor of things to pass the time and beautician services. In other words, much of what is done takes on a cold technical-scientific aspect or is window-dressing to make the facility as marketable and pretty as possible, not for the patient-resident, but to sell the place to the family and keep the bottom line in the black. That’s at the administrative level, of course.

We cannot do enough justice to the dedicated and committed souls on the floors, in the trenches as it were, those with direct patient-resident contact, the living saints: the nursing staff and the nursing aids and therapists who serve in a vocation on a par with that of the professional chaplain. But we must be clear that the spiritual, the religious, the emotional aspect of the patient-resident, an eminently important part of the healing of the wounds of the suffering, is largely treated with a bandaid.

Turf Wars Are Not Uncommon

There are turf and territory concerns, too. I know of no so-called director of pastoral care or a director of volunteer services who would admit that he or she is unqualified for the job of overseeing and coordinating pastoral care to patients and residents. Regrettably, most are ignorant and most take advantage of their position to be self-important in the institution. The standard is generally “good enough” to get under the wire.

Pastoral care is a healthcare specialty and the professional chaplain is a healthcare profession who makes valuable contributions to patient-resident care on the inter- and multi-disciplinary healthcare team. A local clergy person plucked from the community and providing monthly liturgy or worship ritual or popping in to visit patients or residents affiliated with his or her faith tradition is not a chaplain. Most local volunteer clergy have little or no training in clinical pastoral care, little or no knowledge of hospital or medical technology or procedures, many have their own issues, and most are pitifully overworked and distracted by the demands of their parish or congregation. Local volunteer clergy are poor substitutes for dedicated pastoral care professionals.

Most volunteer coordinators and most directors of pastoral care in our hospitals and nursing homes are unaware of the fact that federal and state laws apply to pastoral care and the Joint Commission for Accreditaion of Hospital Organizations, the people who inspect and accredit hospitals and other healthcare facilities, require pastoral care services, and have scoring categories that apply to how the pastoral care is delivered. Do most hospitals and nursing homes comply? Absolutely not!

I’m Here To Stay…I’m Not Budging!

In fact, the era of the denominational hospital is past! There will be no more “Catholic,” “Lutheran,” etc. hospitals run by denominations and adhering to the denomination’s philosophies, ethical tenets, doctrines, etc. Not if they want to continue receiving federal and state administered funds! The age of the interfaith institution is nigh. No more bedside evangelization and proselytizing is out. You even have to ask permission to pray now! Sure we have some prehistoric remnants, fossils remaining on the staffs and boards, even running the pastoral care departments. These are mostly nuns who are making money for their communities and who defend their turf with a religious fervor. There are also priests and ministers who serve part time as pastors and play pastoral care director or chaplain the rest of the time. In an age when parishes and congregations are starving for pastoral leadership, I cannot understand why religious and clergy are allowed to take secular jobs but Hey! there’s hypocrisy everywhere. But this is definitely a conflict of interests considering the constraints and needs, not to mention competency questions.


Most hospitals and nursing homes drag their feet, put up smoke screens, lie on their websites and in their marketing literature, or do just enough to make an impression, and fail in most of the more critical aspects of pastoral care services to their patients and residents.
This article will be continued…


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