TORONTO, March 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Canada’s highest-ranking Catholic prelate is asking Catholics to face reality and fight the federal committee report on euthanasia and assisted suicide that he says “should shock us to the core.”
Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins’ scathing condemnation of the committee’s proposed wide-open euthanasia regime will be read at the archdiocese’s 225 parishes the weekend of March 5 and 6, the Catholic Register reported Wednesday.
The Liberal-dominated committee’s report was tabled in Parliament February 25 and is intended to provide a framework for new legislation governing euthanasia and assisted suicide, which will be legal on June 6, following the Supreme Court’s February 2015 Carter decision which struck down the existing law as unconstitutional.
But, as his brother bishops, including the Canadian bishops’ conference, as well as MPs and other concerned groups have done before him, Collins denounced the report, which he stated “should shock us to the core, especially if we believe, complacently and incorrectly, that the change in the law will affect only a few people with grave physical illness, who have lived a long life, and are near death.”
“It’s incredible that we have come to this,” he told the Register, adding that when the reality of this “sinks in,” people “will be appalled.”
Collins is asking Catholics to contact their MP and “even the Prime Minister if they wish” to express “deep concern” over the impending legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the “grim reality” of which is “hidden behind blandly deceptive terms like ‘Medical Assistance in Dying’.”
The cardinal is also asking parishioners to access the CanadiansforConscience.ca website and join the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience, which represents a number of faith-based health care associations and over 5,000 physicians.
The committee’s 21 recommendations include allowing psychological suffering as the sole determinant for euthanasia, permitting people with degenerative conditions such as dementia to issue advance directives to be euthanized at a future date, and eventually to include children as eligible for euthanasia.
The committee also recommended all publicly funded health care institutions, including Catholic ones, be forced to kill those patients deemed eligible on request, and physicians who object to euthanasia and assisted suicide be forced to give patients an “effective” referral, which is a referral to a doctor willing to kill the patient.
(The four Conservative MPs on the committee dissented from the committee’s report, stating it violates Charter-protected conscience rights, and fails to protect vulnerable Canadians.)
Collins blasted those recommendations as “unjust”, “not tolerant of religious diversity,” and “religious discrimination that punishes those who so faithfully serve everyone who comes to them.”
“I think of those hospitals founded largely by religious sisters,” he told the Register. “You can be sure they would not be killing their patients.”
“It’s a real problem, this attack on people who do nothing but good. To kill patients is terrible. We must unite and express our firm resolve to oppose suppression of the conscience rights of individuals and institutions that serve us so well.”
Indeed, since the committee released its report, the Catholic Health Sponsors of Ontario, which administers 21 healthcare centers in the province, and the Vancouver-based Providence Health Care Centres have fallen under media scrutiny for earlier declarations that, in keeping with Catholic values, they will not kill their patients.
Collins told the Register he is “a man at full tilt,” and that he will be meeting with like-minded groups in Ottawa to mount opposition to the report.
The cardinal also decried Canada’s lack of palliative care as “a tragedy, and unacceptable,” pointing out that only 30 percent of Canadians have access to palliative care.
“Instead of providing ways to hasten death,” he stated, “we should be providing palliative care for every Canadian, greater support for those with mental illness, and help for those tempted to suicide.”
Collins also warned people against using, and being taken in by, dangerous euphemisms, telling the Register that the very title of the committee’s report, “Medical Assistance in Dying: A patient-centred approach,” is “an example of the deadly use of phony language” that “hides grim realities under a cloak of deception.”
“I encourage people to call killing killing and not to use terms that hide what it really means.”
Read Cardinal Thomas Collins’s full statement here.