Cardiff, Wales, June 2, 2003 ( – Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff has written a strong letter to Catholic members of the British House of Lords concerning euthanasia, assisted suicide and Lord Joffe’s Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill which will be debated June 6th in the House of Lords. The letter was written “on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.”

In his letter, the archbishop warns that legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide would in fact “be legalising intentional killing” and “would radically undermine the moral and legal basis of society”. He continues that “The legal prohibition of intentional killing is a cornerstone of law and to change it would have massive social consequences”.  Archbishop Smith also emphasizes that allowing euthanasia “would radically undermine the relationship of trust between doctor and patient”. The Netherlands experience, he says, “has shown that once such a law is passed social attitudes start to change – older people begin to feel themselves a burden and ask whether they should end their lives to save their families the burden of caring for them, even if their families have no desire for this at all”.

The letter strongly suggests that “financial factors would begin to influence decisions” and that “There is a real risk that the right to die would become the duty to die”.  The Archbishop urges the Catholic Lords to speak out against the bill and to vote against it.  See the full text of the letter at