Bishops encourage Catholics to engage in battle against euthanasia

By 
  • July 27, 2009
{mosimage}OTTAWA - Canada’s bishops are urging Catholics to prepare for the upcoming battle against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“Euthanasia and assisted suicide are the antithesis to what should be at the heart of human civilization — trust, respect, concern and solidarity, based on reverence for all human life,” Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop James Weisgerber wrote in a July 17 letter to fellow bishops across Canada.

The Winnipeg archbishop urged that they invite Catholics to become informed about euthanasia, to speak to their political representatives and to join with other faith groups and organizations in fighting against efforts change the law. He suggests the faithful contact their MPs, who are in their ridings for the summer break.

Weisgerber described the matter as “urgent” in light of Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde’s Bill C-384, a private member’s bill that would amend the Criminal Code to make assisted suicide and euthanasia legal in Canada. It's the third time Lalonde has tried to get such a bill passed.

“This debate must be taken seriously,” the archbishop said, noting what appears to be a growing tolerance in the news media towards euthanasia and assisted suicide in some cases.   

“We need to clarify what euthanasia is and what euthanasia is not,” said Catholic Office of Life and Family director Michele Boulva in an interview. “We mustn’t kid ourselves; euthanasia goes hand in hand with assisted suicide.

“The legalization of euthanasia and/or assisted suicide is not about autonomy, dignity and choice. It is about giving some of us the right to kill others.”

Adding fuel to the debate, the Quebec College of Physicians has an ethics task force investigating whether euthanasia might be appropriate in some circumstances. News stories on the issue blurred the distinction between intentional killing and the unintentional shortening of a patient’s life through increasing doses of pain medication.

Boulva said a national conversation is needed to combat the confusion. 

“Euthanasia can never be considered as care,” she said. “It is killing.”

Promoters of euthanasia and assisted suicide use “verbal engineering” through words like “dying with dignity” but they mean deliberate killing, Boulva said.

The experience of countries and American states that have legalized forms of euthanasia show how promised safeguards become eroded.

“The so-called right to choose death when you want it becomes the right of other people to choose for you when you are unable,” she said. “The autonomy and control demanded by a few become abuse of the vulnerable many.

“The so-called ‘right to die’ often becomes a ‘duty to die,’ ” she said.

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