Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, before he was made a cardinal, at St. Peter's basilica in 2012. Lacroix warns that euthanasia is dangerous. CNS Photo/Paul Haring

Cardinal Lacroix warns of euthanasia dangers

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  • May 30, 2016

OTTAWA – With the June 6 deadline fast approaching for the federal government to come up with a law around assisted suicide, Canada’s Catholic Primate has issued a challenge to all people of good will who know someone reaching the end stages of life.

“Listen to that person express to the very end his or her suffering and fear,” said Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec. “Tell that person that he or she has a great worth in your eyes and will always be able to count on your presence. Remind him or her of your unconditional love.”

The cardinal noted calls for an assisted death usually “disappear when someone is well-accompanied.”

In an open letter and video released May 30, as MPs debate Bill C-14, the law to allow assisted suicide in Canada, Lacroix also called for palliative care for the suffering and dying and conscience rights for health-care professionals who do not wish to take part in assisting a patient in dying.

“To respect the sanctity of life, the Catholic Church firmly opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide,” Lacroix said. “She deplores that all the scenarios put forward by the federal government (in Bill C-14) eventually allow a growing number of people to ask to end their life.”

Lacroix directly addressed those who, in the words of the Carter decision, face “a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or a disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable.”

“The life you have received, the breath that sustains you, the personality that characterizes you are imprinted with beauty, nobility and greatness,” he said. “The love you have received, the love you have given are always present and make you — like all of us — people that are vested with great dignity in all circumstances.

“What you have been, what you are today require, among other things, respect, accompaniment and appropriate care to help you grow to the very end,” he said.

Lacroix warned of the danger Canada faces with the passing of an assisted-suicide law. 

“My personal journey in accompanying people in end-of-life situations confirms to me that it is dangerous to allow permission to provoke the death of another person, even with his or her consent,” Lacroix said. “Not only does the law dictate, but it educates and gives a demand of a right and a suggestion of duty.

“With time, customs are affected and the rarity of the gesture cedes way to habit,” he said, calling it a “sad progress.”

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