VALLETTA, Malta, August 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech used a joint pastoral letter marking the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to condemn euthanasia and the “morning-after pill” suddenly being pushed in the tiny island republic.
Drawing upon Pope Francis’ reference to our “throwaway culture”— most recently at World Youth Day in Poland — the two prelates said, “This culture kills unborn babies, abandons the old, forsakes people with disabilities, values people according to their potential contribution to the economy and their consumption, and is unjust with the poor.” They added that it also destroys the environment.
Malta, which in 1565 withstood a siege by the mighty Ottoman Empire, now faces seemingly minor encroachments on its strict laws on abortion and end of life care, but the bishops are clearly not prepared to let them go unchallenged.
The Women’s Rights Foundation, a pro-abortion group, has filed a “judicial protest” against the government’s prohibition against the so-called morning-after pill, which it considers emergency contraception but pro-life supporters insist prevents an embryo from implanting to the wall of the womb and is therefore an abortifacient.
The women’s group called on “government to change its position with regards to emergency contraceptives and licences without further delay. Every day that goes by will continue to discriminate and breach the rights of women.” It claimed the government is required to provide emergency contraceptives by several international agreements it has signed.
The issue of euthanasia has been raised by supporters of Joe Magto, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease. An online petition asking parliamentarians to allow euthanasia has 1,300 signatures.
Several pro-life groups have offered defense against both attacks, including Women for Life, who argue the morning-after pill would increase promiscuity and encourage rape.
The two prelates laid out the theological argument on both issues. “We Christians have a special duty to cherish life because for us, human life is a gift from God, who alone is its master from the beginning to its end,” they wrote. “No human being, therefore, can assume for himself the right to directly destroy the innocent life of another, or to regard some persons as having no value or as obstacles.”
They specifically argued that “certain pills in certain circumstances can be abortifacient,” and instructed Catholics to make certain that the medication they are taking cannot cause an abortion.
Taking aim at the underlying assumptions of the euthanasia movement about the right to a high “quality of life,” the bishops said, “Certainly we do feel for each person who is experiencing such suffering. However, we also believe that the value of human life does not depend on whether the person is healthy or satisfied with the quality of his or her life. … Euthanasia can never be in the best interest of the patient.”
They called for the best palliative care possible “to alleviate psychological and physical pain” and announced the Catholic Church in Malta would help establish a new palliative care hospice for the dying.
The full text of the Pastoral letter is here.