September 28, 2009 ( – As debate begins again in Canada surrounding the question of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Archbishop V. James Weisgerber, has recently issued a letter asking MPs and Canadian citizens to consider the consequences of legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Currently Bill C-384, put forward by MP Francine Lalonde, is before parliament which, if passed, would legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Weisgerber points out that, while those who are initiating the attempt to legalize euthanasia are “no doubt motivated by concern for the sufferings of others,” “An unfortunate understanding of compassion has led them to suggest euthanizing the most vulnerable instead of providing them with proper care, effective pain control, and social, emotional and spiritual support until their natural death.” 
Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Weisgerber says that it is legitimate to use medication and other means to alleviate suffering, even if a side effect can be the shortening of life expectancy.  He adds, however, that “what is never acceptable is the direct and intentional killing of the depressed, handicapped, sick, elderly or dying.” 

“It is hard to see how any legislation legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide would protect the most vulnerable in our society,” writes Weisgerber. “What confidence and trust could they possibly have that their lives would continue to be protected by health-care providers, family and friends, or society at large?

“Euthanasia and assisted suicide, by their very nature, mean there is no longer a common duty for all to protect the lives of others. There is also the well-founded fear that euthanasia and assisted suicide can be imposed on individuals as a way to save costs and lessen demands on care-givers. Inevitably, the result would be a society even more fragmented, with its members living in greater isolation and anxiety.”
The President of the CCCB concludes the letter by inviting:
1. The members of the Parliament of Canada – elected representatives in the House of Commons as well as Senators – to use clear definitions in their upcoming debates, and also to consider the profound impact that such legislation would have on the lives of individuals and on the wider community;

2. All Canadians to become better informed about euthanasia and assisted suicide, and to promote instead palliative and home care to help those in need and their care-givers;

3.Catholics, our brothers and sisters who belong to other Christian communities or other faiths, and all who appreciate the beauty and inherent dignity of life, to engage in this debate civilly and respectfully, so as to witness a profound reverence for the inherent dignity of each and all human life.