OTTAWA, October 26, 2012, ( – Ottawa’s chief bishop has condemned the country’s move towards establishing death laws for the elderly, calling the government to “retain [the] prohibition” against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide would be a rejection of God’s most precious gift: life itself,” said Catholic Archbishop Terrence Prendergast at a benefit dinner last week in the nation’s capital.


“Let us pray that our governments continue to protect our vulnerable seniors by retaining this prohibition,” he said.

Prendergast opened his speech at the fifth annual Archbishop’s Charity Dinner last Wednesday with a reflection on the fourth commandment, “honour your father and your mother”.

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“How we honour our parents changes with the seasons of life. As our elders need more help from us than they can give to us, we honour them by helping them transition from a ministry of doing to a ministry of being,” he said. “We honour our seniors with time, attention, and love”.

The Archbishop pointed out that a “culture of life values each life, nurtures it, and is enriched by it”.

Canadian courts have recently been deluged with efforts from the “right to die” lobby to have the country’s prohibition against euthanasia and assisted suicide overturned.

A judge ruled last June in the Carter case in British Columbia that the criminal code’s prohibition against assisted suicide is unconstitutional. The ruling has since been appealed by the Canadian government. The Leblanc case in Quebec seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia as a “medical treatment”.

“Sadly, there are forces in our society that cheapen life. Some people would hasten death under the guise of compassion but, in reality, for mere convenience,” the Archbishop said.

Prendergast warned that practicing euthanasia and assisted suicide entails a slippery slope that leads to “an even broader disrespect for life”.

“The definition of ‘terminally ill’ begins to encompass people with non-life threatening chronic pain, who could be treated with better palliative care,” he warned. “Death becomes an acceptable alternative to expensive treatment as health care budgets get strained.”

“Promises that euthanasia would only be voluntary are soon forgotten as patients are coerced to agree to stop weighing down their family. Temporary depression compels patients to choose an irreversible path.”

In a nod to the fifth century Hippocratic oath, Prendergast pointed out that for thousands of years, almost all societies have “wisely forbidden” euthanasia.

The Hippocratic oath, which up until recently was professed by all in the medical profession, forbade doctors from prescribing drugs causing death or even suggesting “any such counsel”.

The Archbishop stressed that “love” is the best defense against a culture that sees death as the answer to a difficult problem.

“We must never let our seniors think that they are worthless, a burden, or forgotten,” he said.

The Archbishop concluded: “How we treat our seniors is how the next generation will treat us.”