QUEBEC CITY, January 30, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The bishops of Quebec are calling on the power of prayer to change the hearts of legislators as Quebec’s National Assembly prepares to vote on a bill to legalize euthanasia in the formerly Catholic province.
In a letter January 27th, the president of the Assembly of Bishops called for a special day of prayer on February 11th, the World Day of the Sick, which happens to be the day the legislature resumes.
“Today we would like to invite all Catholics to pray – and to pray in a particular way on February 11, World Day of the Sick – that the Holy Spirit might touch the hearts and consciences of the Members of the National Assembly who will soon be called upon to vote on the proposed law, and that they might in turn welcome the Spirit in the depths of their souls,” wrote Archbishop Pierre-André Fournier.
“Many of the Saints and Blesseds who have lived in Québec have been notable for their devotion to the sick,” said the archbishop. “These great witnesses to the love of God were able to see the incomparable dignity of each person, no matter how fragile or impaired. Let us entrust ourselves to their intercession at this turning point in the history of our people, at a moment when our elected representatives have a decision to make that will have especially weighty consequences.”
“May the Lord grant us the strength and the courage to draw near to the seriously ill and the dying, and to be witnesses ourselves to the love of God and to the hope of eternal life,” he added.
Prayer might be the only remaining option for the bishops, as there is widespread support for the bill in both the National Assembly and among Quebec citizens.
Despite this support, in another statement released on January 23rd, the Quebec bishops affirmed that legislating euthanasia “goes against the most basic human values and contradicts the very purpose of medicine. … To cause death to a sick person is not to care for him. A lethal injection is not a treatment. Euthanasia is not a form of care.”
Polls consistently show more support for euthanasia in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. A poll commissioned by LifeCanada in October showed that 35% of Quebecers were in favour of the measure, while only 14% were firmly opposed. The initial vote on the measure in the National Assembly in October garnered 84 votes in favour and only 26 against.
The Quebec bishops have also released a version of the Prayers of the Faithful that they suggest could be used in upcoming masses.
“In company with our bishops, who have expressed their ﬁrm opposition to this proposed law, let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Saints and Blesseds who have lived in Québec and who were noted for their devotion to the sick,” the prayer reads.
The call for prayer and the January 23rd statement by the bishops are only the latest attempts of the Quebec bishops to mobilize citizens and legislators against the bill. According to the Assembly’s website, Bishop Pierre Morissette and Bishop Noël Simard addressed the Board of Health and Social Services on the issue on September 19, 2013. The Assembly of Bishops also previously submitted a statement on September 30, 2010, during the hearings of the “Special Commission on the Issue of Dying with Dignity” in Quebec. Likewise, on the 29th of March, 2012, the bishops responded to the published report of the Commission. Individual bishops have also made statements to their dioceses against the measure, the website indicates.