The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has learned with dismay of a ruling on assisted suicide by a judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court. The Catholic position on this question is clear. Human life is a gift from God. Therefore, as taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2280, "We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of."
Being stewards of life also requires each of us and all society to respond to the physical, emotional and moral sufferings of people of all ages, particularly those seriously ill or handicapped. In this regard, as the Bishops of Canada stated in 2005, we stand before a fundamental option, the response to which reveals the true nature of our society's heart. Do we show concern for the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and vulnerable by encouraging them to commit suicide or through deliberating killing them by euthanasia? Or, instead, do we fashion a culture of life and love in which each person, at every moment and in all circumstances of their natural lifespan, is treasured as a gift?
The CCCB will issue a more detailed reflection at a later date, once there has been opportunity to review the lengthy 395-page ruling. The ruling by the BC Supreme Court gives Parliament a year in which to consider the question. This will also give the CCCB opportunity to make submissions in due course.
+Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
18 June 2012