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 Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

November 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — As you are surely aware, the City Council of the District of Columbia overwhelmingly voted for a bill that legalizes suicide for “terminally ill” people. 

Washington, D.C. is the sixth jurisdiction nationwide to approve this form of suicide. What makes DC unique is such a dramatic decision was not remanded to the voters in a plebiscite. Rather, 11 council members propose to impose this on us, preferring not to trust the voters. I am not even sure, in such a liberal and secular town as Washington D.C., if we would get the desired answer from the voters, but such a serious decision deserves a wider conversation outside the council chambers. Eleven council members should not be able to decide something of this importance. 

While it is called the “death with dignity” bill and establishes the so-called “right to die,” we must be clear that the “right to die” is the sheep's clothing of what the wolf underneath actually means. The right to die becomes the duty to die. Rights ultimately point to duties. If you are among those who cheer this new right, please realize you have just acquired a new duty, the duty to end it all when you become too much of a burden. If you don't think this is true, watch how quickly insurance companies and big government start rewriting your policy and coverage. 

What marches in under tolerance, freedom and compassion will soon reveal itself as a lack of tolerance for the dying, the chronically ill and the disabled. Announcing the personal freedom of “being able to do as I please with my own life” will be replaced by a tyranny that refuses medical help to those who reasonably request it. And all the talk of compassion will soon be replaced by government policy makers and insurance companies rewriting your policies. If policy writers and government wonks think you were taking too long to die, you might just find a little shove come your way. Consider yourself kicked to the curb. Private decisions such as these have public consequences.

As a Catholic priest and a Christian, I want to say that this decision is immoral. I also want to respectfully warn those who voted for it, and those who actively supported the bill, that they will answer to God for what they have done. We are not permitted to kill, except in grave necessity of self-defense. We certainly cannot kill ourselves.

Scripture teaches, You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body (1 Cor 6:19-20). Our lives do not belong to us. And we who would believe in God must be very vocal; we have no right whatsoever to take our own lives.   

Again, to my fellow Catholics and Christians I want to be very clear, to commit suicide in this manner is objectively a grave, mortal sin. While the Church has been historically gentle toward those who commit suicide due to mental illness or grave and acute emotional distress, this physician-assisted suicide is not of that sort. It is a gravely sinful act, committed with extended deliberation and full consent of the will.

That one is in some pain, or foresees difficult days ahead, and is therefore anxious, cannot excuse this grave action. It is hard to argue that moral culpability (guilt or blameworthiness) is lessened by pain or discomfort. Pain management and palliative care are very advanced today and can reduce pain and even if to a minimum. Home care and hospice-like centers also permit family support.

As Christians, we believe that suffering has meaning and produces glory: For our momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18). We all have allotted to us a degree of suffering in this life, but God does not permit it, except that if some greater good can come from it. Either we believe this or we do not. 

Thus, no Christian can credibly argue that this physician-assisted suicide is pleasing to God. Saint Paul warns: For as I have often told you before, and now declare even with tears: Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame. Their minds are set on earthly things. (Phil 3:18-19) 

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There is only one safe place for the decision about when life should end, and that is with God. Our Catholic and Christian stance does not mean that we must endlessly sustain life with one machine after another. That can also be to play God. While we are not always obligated to provide endless medical treatments when death is surely approaching, neither are we in any way permitted to kill a person by direct actions such as suffocation, starving them to death, putting them down with drugs, as with animals. 

No amount of human law can make right what is evil. That is why this decision of the DC City Council is immoral. Yes, physician-assisted suicide is a grave moral evil. And it is the height of foolishness to end one's life in the very act of committing a mortal sin! 

God says plainly in the Fifth Commandment “You shall not kill!” No one has the right before God to kill himself or support actions that kill others. Calling such an action compassion or dignity does not change the fact that one is engaging in an act of killing, pure and simple. Those who do so, and encourage others to do so, will answer to God for this. 

It is a bad and prideful idea to sow death and think we will reap somehow life. Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. (Gal 6:7) Today, our City Council has further sowed death. What do you suppose we will reap?


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