By Gudrun Schultz

  OTTAWA, Ontario, January 18. 2007 ( – The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the release of a new leaflet on the meaning of suffering and death today, published by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family in response to the growing push for legal euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

  Entitled Living, Suffering and Dying…What For?, the material “walks the reader through a powerful contemplation of one of life’s greatest mysteries: pain and suffering,” the CCCB media release stated.

“Since suffering and illness appear in the normal course of every human life, the question of their significance comes up in thinking about the meaning of life,” the document says, emphasizing the importance of suffering in Christian theology and countering the modern belief that suffering is a useless and hopeless experience.

  Christians are called on to help and support those who are suffering through illness or old age, “so that they remain courageous until the natural end of their lives,” the document reads.

“For Christians, this is the real meaning of “aid in dying”: it is aid in living until the day when God invites his child to come home.”

  For those who are suffering, permitting others to care for them is also an act of service, since, “[t]o allow oneself to be loved and accompanied by another is to provide the other with the occasion and the privilege of serving and loving Christ.”

  The document emphasizes the central importance of palliative care services, which, it pointedly states, “never seek to hasten death.”

“By associating sophisticated treatment of physical pain with a personal accompaniment that is marked by attentiveness, tenderness and compassion, so many health professionals and volunteers who work in the palliative care units and homes confirm the dignity of the terminally ill.

“These admirable and model teams of human solidarity consider all the needs (physical, psychological, social and spiritual) of the people who have arrived at the end of their earthly journey. They invite the dying to continue to share the …wisdom gleaned from their life experience, and help them to understand the meaning of their last weeks and their last days, until they arrive naturally at the most important moment of their life: their passage into eternity and their face to face encounter with God.

  The document responds to ‘quality of life” arguments for euthanasia with a strong statement on the human dignity inherent in the human person, regardless of the experience of suffering or dependency on others.

“No, suffering is not useless. And it does not diminish human dignity. Human dignity depends neither on the quality of our lives nor on our autonomy. It finds its source in God, who created us in his image and likeness and who calls each of us to live and die in the manner of Christ—to bring the world back to Him.”

  Earlier this month the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association was criticized by euthanasia opponents for abandoning its previous position of open opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia, in a draft statement calling for further discussion on the issue.

 While the CHPCA expressed a neutral position until further debate has taken place, the policy statement was worded in the preferred language of euthanasia activists. “Physician-assisted suicide” was replaced with “physician-assisted death”, terminology the Right to Die lobby has adopted as more user-friendly for the general public.

  Leaflet copies are available from:
  The Catholic Organization for Life and Family
  2500 Don Reid Drive, Ottawa, Ontario
  K1H 2J2
  613-241-9461 ext. 161
  E-mail: [email protected]

  See full CCCB report:,eng/

  See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

  Canadian Hospice Association Slammed for Abandoning Opposition to Euthanasia


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