As debate begins again in our country surrounding the question of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Archbishop V. James Weisgerber, has recently issued a letter asking Members of Parliament and all the people of Canada to reflect on the possible consequences of Bill C-384, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity).
While noting that those wishing to re-open this debate are no doubt motivated by concern for the suffering of others, the President of the CCCB casts doubt on those very motivations. “An unfortunate understanding of compassion has led them to suggest euthanizing the most vulnerable instead of providing them with proper care, effective pain control, and social, emotional and spiritual support until their natural death.”
Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Weisgerber says that it is legitimate to use medication and other means to alleviate suffering, even if a side effect can be the shortening of life expectancy. He adds however that “what is never acceptable is the direct an and intentional killing of the depressed, handicapped, sick, elderly or dying.”
In a spirit united with the Bishops of Canada, the President of the CCCB invites:
- The members of the Parliament of Canada – elected representatives in the House of Commons as well as Senators – to use clear definitions in their upcoming debates, and also to consider the profound impact that such legislation would have on the lives of individuals and on the wider community;
- All Canadians to become better informed about euthanasia and assisted suicide, and to promote instead palliative and home care to help those in need and their care-givers;
- Catholics, our brothers and sisters who belong to other Christian communities or other faiths, and all who appreciate the beauty and inherent dignity of life, to engage in this debate civilly and respectfully, so as to witness a profound reverence for the inherent dignity of each and all human life.
For further information on the Catholic perspective on euthanasia and assisted suicide, consult the following:
- Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute
- Catholic Health Alliance of Canada
- Catholic Organization for Life and Family
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