OTTAWA, May 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — “Human life in this world is not ours to control or to master; it is a gift of God. We are entrusted with it, and called to nurture that gift on our brief journey through this earthly world on our way home to the house of the heavenly Father,” stated Cardinal Thomas Collins in a homily just two weeks prior to the expected passing of a bill that would allow doctors to legally end the lives of their patients through assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The Cardinal was speaking on May 12 at Notre Dame Basilica in Ottawa during a morning mass prior to the National March for Life. He said that defenders of life must now not only contend with the “evil of abortion,” but now also the “evil of euthanasia.”
In February 2015 the Supreme Court tossed out prohibitions against assisted suicide and euthanasia, saying that such prohibitions “unjustifiably infringe” Charter rights (section 7) of the individual, which are the rights to “life, liberty and security of the person.”
Collins called euthanasia not only “evil,” but a “scourge,” warning that Canadians “need only look to the countries of western Europe that have gone before us down this dark path to see what is in store.”
The acceptance of euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium has gradually led to a significant number of controversial deaths, including a woman who was euthanized because of Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), another woman who was euthanized for depression after a long-term relationship break-up, and another woman who was euthanized after being sexually exploited by her psychiatrist and developing anorexia nervosa.
Collins lamented society’s “distorted vision of the dignity of the human person” as well as a “misguided societal consensus” that seems to sweep many along with it, but which, he said, is “driving all of us onto the rocks.”
He mentioned Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Descent into the Maelstrom,” wherein is described a great whirlpool that sweeps to destruction at the bottom of the sea anyone unfortunate to be caught in it, as a fitting image for the current situation.
The Cardinal encouraged those present to go out and to combat the “false ideas” that are behind the push for death as a solution to problems. He mentioned three in particular.
Absolute personal autonomy
The idea that each of us is an island. This false idea is simply taken as obvious throughout the misguided Carter Decision of the Supreme Court, and in Bill C-14. “It’s my life; I can do with it whatever I want.” Another version is: “It’s my body; I can do with it whatever I want.” But as the great English poet John Donne wisely observed, no man is an island, entire unto himself. We live in a web of relationships of love, and as Christians we see in that a reflection of the very life of the Blessed Trinity. We are not absolutely independent, and in fact as we depend on others and on God we find the meaning of our life.
The false idea that reality is mainly found between my ears. No, there is an objective world of reality, not created or shaped by our subjective desires. Wisdom involves discovering it, and seeing how we are called to adapt to it. We are fruitfully bound by realities that constrain our egos, even if they are universal principles that cannot be photographed or weighed. Marriage as a covenant of love between a man and a woman, faithful in love and open to the gift of life, is not just something that we can adjust to our taste; that reality focuses our desires, and makes them truly joyful and fruitful. “Thou shalt not kill” is not an abstraction.
Human dignity based on capacity to function
The false idea that our dignity comes from externals, and depends on our capacity to function according to some self-established norm… Although avoidance of pain is used as an excuse for euthanasia…a fundamental motive force in this destructive movement is the idea that if we can no longer function to our satisfaction, life is not worth living: it is said to have no dignity….We are falsely considered to have dignity only when we are in control. There are deadly implications beyond the immediate issue of euthanasia in this false concept of dignity, for there are many people in society who could be considered to not be functioning according to some arbitrary standard of excellence, and who therefore would be considered unworthy. That dark path has been travelled before. No: our dignity does not depend on our ability to function, which will inevitably decrease over the years. Our dignity resides in our identity as a precious human person, a child of God, loved and loving. What I am in the sight of God, that I am indeed, no more, no less.
Cardinal Collins called these errors the “roots of the culture of death.” He encouraged those present to fight the errors.
“[We must] find ways to communicate the awesome reality of the human condition, so that people who are deceived through these false assumptions that lie at the foundation of our contemporary society may be freed of their illusions, and come to realize the wondrous dignity of the human person at each stage of earthly life from conception to natural death,” he concluded.