A German photo illustration shows tools used in euthanasia. CNS photo/Norbert Fellechner, www.imago via Reuters

Charles Lewis: Here’s why we need to oppose euthanasia

  • October 28, 2020

I would not blame you if you sighed in frustration at yet another column about euthanasia. You may think others and myself have made the point repeatedly.

But there is something more to say — perhaps the most important reason why every Catholic must fully oppose euthanasia.

It seems that Bill C-7 will be approved in Parliament and euthanasia will be expanded to capture more poor souls. Roughly 19,000 have already been lost.

Not long ago euthanasia was considered murder. Then four years ago it became a medical procedure for the dying and now it will become yet another procedure for those who are in pain but not dying.

This will not be the end of this deadly progression. The Liberals have indicated the next step will be to include “mature minors” — also known as teenagers once C-7 is history. God knows where they take it next.

I am writing about this again because I realized I have been shortchanging purely Catholic arguments against euthanasia and focusing on more secular reasons to fight back this scourge. I have written about how medicine is improving all the time in both cures and pain reduction. I have written about the lack of quality palliative care so as to offer a real choice to being killed. And I have made arguments using the vulnerability of those who are sick and alone without love and support.

The reason I have taken the approach is simple: More than 80 per cent of Canadians, including 70 per cent of Catholics, approve of assisted suicide.

So it seemed to me there was no point in using religious arguments. I assumed any self-described Catholic would know that the Church calls euthanasia a grave sin but decided to ignore those teachings.

I am tired of those secular arguments because they are all head and no heart. They are intellect without a soul. And they avoid the real issue — or at least the real issue for Catholics.

The most important reasons to oppose euthanasia are the Incarnation and the Cross. God’s great gift to us was sending His Son Jesus Christ, who was fully divine and fully human, to rescue us from our sins and put us on the road to Heaven. The Incarnation changed the world and changed all of us in a deeply personal way.

“The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature,’ ” The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches. “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God. For the Son of God became man so that we might become God. The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in His divinity, assumed our nature, so that He, made man, might make men gods.”

Let those five words sink in: We are “partakers in the divine flesh.”

So what does that mean when we destroy that flesh? It is in the words of the Church “a crime against human life” and therefore “intrinsically evil.” We are destroying flesh made holy by Christ.

The Cross, meantime, is an offer to live a life of courage. In fact, it helps us to see illness and pain in a new way. Christ’s example on Calvary shows us that our pain, in sharing it with Christ’s suffering on the cross, can be salvific, opening a door to salvation.

Does this make sense? Yes. If you believe Christ was the Son of God then it makes all the sense in the world. Does it mean we should simply bear pain without looking for relief? Of course not. God is our Father, not our tormentor. To ignore pain could lead to ignoring an underlying cause that could be deadly. There is also nothing wrong with subduing pain using prescription medicine.

But there are many times when all the pills and treatments never quell the pain to the extent we hoped. I know this first hand. Then it is time to rely on faith, which should be the bedrock of our lives. It is in those moments we look to the Cross.

Pope Benedict said this in an interview many years ago: “Faith has to be lived again and again in life and in suffering as well as in the great joys that God sends us.”

Be not afraid.

(Lewis a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

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