COLF Comment on the Decision in the Case of Marielle Houle

Tuesday, January 31 2006

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) would like to express its appreciation of the precautions taken by Justice Maurice Laramée in his decision in the Houle case on January 27, 2006. Marielle Houle pleaded guilty to assisting in the suicide of her son, Charles Fariala.

On the one hand, while sentencing the retired nurse to only three years of probation, Justice Laramée took care to indicate that his decision should not be viewed as precedent.

On the other hand, while insisting on the uniqueness of the Houle case and on the poor health of the accused, Justice Laramée recalled that “the present state of the law in Canada is that to help or encourage suicide is unacceptable and illegal.” The immoral nature of such an act is also clear, since all life possesses intrinsic value and sacredness that no illness can diminish.

There may be little doubt about Charles Fariala’s mental suffering and about Marielle Houle’s love for her son. In order to understand what happened, one must consider Marielle Houle’s state of health and “the intense and intimate bond that she had with her only son.” She still claims today that she acted out of compassion and unconditional love.

This claim should prompt us to reflect. Faced with a person who asks for death in a moment of depression, loneliness and fear, love and compassion require instead that we assist the person, that we lend support to the person in his or her suffering with an attentive presence, full of human warmth. Justice Laramée also emphasized that Charles Fariala did not receive the support that he had a right to expect from his mother and from society.

This tragic case clearly illustrates that the close relatives of the seriously sick who may consider suicide also need the support of the state and of other members of society. We must seriously think about the support and the care that should be made available to the most vulnerable citizens in Canada.

The death of Charles Fariala shows us why it is necessary to have laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Without such laws, even the depressed and most vulnerable among us would be at risk of being killed by those who love them but whose judgment can be clouded by their own emotional state.

Faced with the pain, vulnerability and despair of another, true love and compassion demand that we accompany that person in a spirit of solidarity by helping him or her to recognize the continual worth and dignity of their struggle and their life.

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family is co-sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and by the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.

For More Information Contact:
Michèle Boulva
Catholic Organization for Life and Family
Tel: (613) 241-9461, Ext. 141