With files from Kerry Ramseyer

SEATTLE, June 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – During a 2004 meeting of the bishops of the United States an agreement was made to sanction Catholic politicians who support abortion.  At a press conference today at the 2011 Spring General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), LifeSiteNews asked if those same sanctions would apply to Catholic politicians who support assisted suicide.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities replied that the question of sanctions has not “been completely addressed internally.”  He did, however, stress that once approved, the new policy statement on assisted suicide – which is to be voted on by the bishops Thursday – would be made known in the public square, “and the political square as well.”

The document, “To Live Each Day with Dignity,” will be the first statement on assisted suicide by the USCCB.

“After years of relative inaction following legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Oregon in 1994, the assisted suicide movement has shown a strong resurgence in activity,” said Cardinal DiNardo explaining the need for the new document.

“This renewed effort has led to the passage of an Oregon-style law in Washington by popular referendum in November 2008, a state supreme court decision essentially declaring that assisted suicide is not against public policy in Montana, and concerted efforts to pass legislation in several New England and Western states,” he said. “The Church needs to respond in a timely and visible way to this renewed challenge, which will surely be pursued in a number of states in the years to come.”

The draft statement speaks of the hardships and fears of patients facing terminal illness and the importance of life-affirming palliative care. It cites the Church’s concern for those who are tempted to commit suicide, its opposition to physician-assisted suicide, and the consistency of this stance with the principle of equal and inherent human rights and the ethical principles of the medical profession.

In 2004, the U.S. bishops’ statement “Catholics in Political Life,” said pro-abortion politicians should not be honored by the Catholic community and Catholic institutions. “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,” says the statement. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2004/jun/04062102