Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec at the Vatican in 2015. In a statement put out Sept. 29, Lacroix said he won’t refuse funerals for those choosing assisted suicide or euthanasia. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Quebec cardinal won't refuse funerals for those choosing assisted death

By  Philippe Vaillancourt, Catholic News Service
  • September 30, 2016

QUEBEC CITY – Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec said he has no intention to follow in the steps of his fellow Canadian bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in refusing funerals for those who asked to be euthanized.

"I don't plan specific directives aimed at refusing this support or refusing access to the anointing of the sick and the celebration of funerals," Cardinal Lacroix said in a statement Sept. 29. The cardinal was reacting to a document published earlier this month by the bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, addressed to the clergy, in which they said these sacraments and celebrations may be refused for those opting for assisted suicide or euthanasia.

"The Catholic Church accompanies people in every step of their life. We do that in dialogue with every person and every family that wishes to be accompanied," added the cardinal.

He also reminded people of everyone's "unconditional dignity in the eyes of God."

"This is why we will always opt for palliative care accessible for everyone instead of euthanasia," Cardinal Lacroix said.

He recognized that recent changes in the laws of the province of Quebec and in the Canadian Penal Code offer "new pastoral challenges" for the Catholic Church.

In Montreal, Archbishop Christian Lepine also said he does not intend to ask his priests to refuse funerals for those who choose the now legal medically assisted dying.

In their 34-page Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons and Families Considering or Opting for Death by Assisted Suicide or Euthanasia, published in mid-September, the Alberta and Northwest Territories bishops said euthanasia is a "grave violation of the law of God." They offered pastoral guidance and indicated that a person's judgment may be impaired through "depression, drugs, or pressure from others."

They said it would be "truly scandalous" if funerals were to become a celebration of the decision to choose euthanasia or assisted suicide. "Such a request for funeral rites must be gently but firmly denied," said the document.

Comments (1)

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This is a brave and compassionate move on the part of Cardinal Gerald Lacroix and I applaud him for it. Having said this.....my comment is not to be interpreted as approving of assisted dying in the usual context as understood by the general public.

Jon Leeds
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