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Canada’s bishops issue ‘heartfelt cry’ against assisted suicide: rebuke politicians’ silence

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MONTREAL, September 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In a strongly worded statement issued Friday, Canada’s bishops expressed “outrage” at the Supreme Court of Canada’s February decision striking down the prohibition against physician-assisted suicide, and rebuked candidates in the current election campaign for ignoring this life-and-death issue.

“We are in the midst of a federal election campaign. The candidates’ silence on the question of assisted suicide astonishes us,” wrote the bishops in a statement issued at the plenary session of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and which the authors described as a “heartfelt cry.”

“We are in the midst of a federal election campaign. The candidates’ silence on the question of assisted suicide astonishes us."

“Have we relinquished the ability to debate the profound questions of life that touch us all? Are our politicians that terrified by the risk of awkwardly phrased responses, getting ‘off message’, or the ups and downs of public opinion polls?”

The bishops urged “all the citizens of our country to raise this question of life and death at meetings with candidates, to stimulate a true debate worthy of our great country.”

“We cannot but express our outrage at the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to create a new ‘constitutional right’ in Canada, the so-called ‘right’ to suicide,” the bishops further stated.

“The ruling would legalize an action that, from time immemorial, has been judged immoral: the taking of innocent life,” they wrote. “Moreover, it puts at risk the lives of the vulnerable, the depressed, those with physical or mental illness, and those with disabilities.”

The bishops called on whatever government is formed after the October 19 federal election to invoke the “notwithstanding” clause to prevent the SCC ruling from coming into effect when the court-mandated one-year deadline is up, stating that one year “is far too short for such a fundamental change in our laws to enter into force.”

The notwithstanding clause would put a five-year hold on the February 2015 decision.

“If ever a legal decision warranted invoking this clause in our Constitution, this is it,” the bishops wrote. “We need to allow ourselves time to reflect before acting, time to consider seriously the consequences of our actions in dealing with this crucial moral issue.”

They also stated that the government “must at all cost uphold and protect the conscience rights of the men and women who work as caregivers.”

“Requiring a physician to kill a patient is always unacceptable,” wrote the bishops. “It is an affront to the conscience and vocation of the health-care provider to require him or her to collaborate in the intentional putting to death of a patient, even by referring the person to a colleague."

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Elected leaders should focus on providing “high-quality palliative care, long-term care, and home care,” the bishops stated. “In the face of the terrible suffering that can be caused by illnesses or depression, a truly human response should be to care, not to kill,” they wrote.

“The need for palliative care should be one of the most pressing preoccupations of our country and its institutions. This is where the energies and resources of our elected leaders should be directed.”

The bishops stated that their “awareness” as Catholic bishops “is shaped by thousands of years of reflection, and by our actions as Christians in following Jesus. He showed most fully what it means to love, to serve, and to be present to others.”

“His response to the suffering of others was to suffer with them, not to kill them!” they added. “He accepted suffering in his life as the pathway to giving, to generosity, to mercy.”

To read the entire statement, go here.

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