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Rejecting assisted suicide in the state 'is a human rights imperative,' says Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano.

ROCHESTER, New York, May 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A New York Catholic bishop has denounced current efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state, calling it a “path toward self-destruction.”

“When we subjectively determine when life begins and ends, when it is viable or not, or when it is too burdensome to endure, we begin a path toward self-destruction,” said Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano. “Life is no longer precious, but just another commodity in the business of living. Relativism becomes the absolute, and even the value of life itself is questioned.”

The concern is not irrational, he said, and the Catholic Church cares very much for the vulnerable members of society, appreciating the worth of each human person, especially in the most difficult times.

Rejecting physician-assisted suicide is not just a Catholic position, though, the bishop said, “it is a human rights imperative.”

The value of human life is being put into question, said Bishop Matano, decrying “euphemistically titled” bills currently before the New York State Legislature seeking to legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.

“The value of persons who are gravely ill and/or at the end of their lives is currently being questioned and their very lives threatened by a growing movement in our society to end life prematurely.”

Efforts to pass physician-assisted suicide in New York have been ongoing, and lawmakers introduced physician-assisted suicide legislation in the last two weeks. An appeals court had ruled the week before that there was no fundamental right to assisted suicide in the state.

Bishop Matano’s March statement against legalizing physician-assisted suicide, picked up this week by, urged the state’s legislators to reject the push, “for it will inevitably put tremendous pressure on our most vulnerable citizens to end their lives.”

“In an era of health care rationing and cost-cutting, assisted suicide could easily rise to the level of the most acceptable, inexpensive, and even expected ‘treatment’ for terminal illness,” he said further, recalling the warning presented in results of the 1994 New York State Task Force on Life and the Law. “We owe our brothers and sisters in the human family so much more.”

Respect for life means accepting and providing ordinary means of preserving life, Bishop Matano pointed out, and those means consist of what offers reasonable hope of benefit and does not create excessive burden. “But intentional euthanasia, the willful and conscious act of putting to death those who are sick, are disabled, or are dying, is morally unacceptable and a tragic offense against life!”

The Rochester prelate has publicly stood for Catholic principles in a number of past instances.

When bishop of Burlington, Vermont, he was among a group of bishops who declined in 2010 to take part in the annual national collection for the USCCB’s domestic social justice initiative, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), in the wake of scandal involving CCHD collection proceeds benefitting abortion and homosexual “marriage.”

A few years earlier Bishop Matano had declined to attend commencement ceremonies at a local Catholic college due to the school inviting honorees that had publicly advocated for position contrary to Catholic teaching.

Bishop Matano also opposed assisted suicide while bishop in Vermont, saying in a statement of its 2013 legalization there, “Vermont is now identified as one of the few Death States, where it is legal for life to be terminated both at its beginning and end stages; a State that so rightly opposes the death penalty and the tragedies of war now sends a confusing and conflicting message that undermines its stand for life.”