Toronto, Ottawa prelates call faithful to action against euthanasia

IMAGE: CNS photo/EPA, via Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice


OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) — The
Catholic archbishops in two of Canada’s largest English-speaking dioceses
stepped up their campaign against euthanasia and assisted suicide, calling the
faithful to action.

Cardinal Thomas Collins of
Toronto and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa issued pastoral letters read
in parishes during Masses over the March 5-6 weekend, reported Canadian
Catholic News.

“Physicians across our
country who have devoted their lives to healing patients will soon be asked to
do the exact opposite,” Cardinal Collins wrote. “They will not be
asked to ease their suffering by providing them with treatment and loving care,
but by putting them to death. In fact, killing a patient will no longer be
considered a crime, but will actually be seen as a kind of health care,
complete with legislation to regulate it.”

Cardinal Collins said recent
recommendations of a parliamentary committee “should shock us to the core.”
The recommendations open the possibility of euthanasia for minors, include
advanced directives so those diagnosed with dementia can schedule their
deaths, and recommend allowing euthanasia for those with psychiatric conditions.

The committee also recommended
doctors who refuse to kill their patients find someone else to do it, he said,
adding, “No other country in the world requires such a violation of

“It is unjust to force
people to act against their conscience in order to be allowed to practice as a
physician or, in the case of a health care facility, in order to qualify for
government funding. It is not tolerant of religious diversity,” Cardinal
Collins said. “It is religious discrimination that punishes those who so
faithfully serve everyone who comes to them ….”

Cardinal Collins urged Catholics
to join the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience via its website The coalition represents an array of groups, at
least four of them Catholic.

“Mindful of the inherent
dignity of each person, it is time for families across the country to have a
difficult but necessary conversation about the reality of death,” Cardinal
Collins said. “We need to understand the destructive implications of these
legal changes and offer truly loving and merciful alternatives.”

He urged Catholics to use the
site to help them in contacting their elected representatives.

Archbishop Prendergast also
called on Catholics to share their concerns with their federal and provincial

“Talk to your friends and
co-workers about the grave threat to human dignity and life that assisted
suicide and euthanasia pose to our most vulnerable neighbors,” he said. “Explain
to your children, grandchildren, friends and associates the importance of
reverencing human life that begins at conception in the womb and ends in
natural death.”

Archbishop Prendergast explained
Catholic teaching that taking one’s life or that of another is “morally

“To formally cooperate in
the killing of the disabled, frail, sick, or suffering, even if motivated by a
misplaced compassion, requires a prior judgment that such lives do not have
value and are not worth living,” he said. “But all human life has
value. The law should protect all life. No one forfeits the right to life
because of illness or disability.”

The Ottawa archbishop urged
Catholics to fast and pray and participate in a novena to St. Joseph March

In news coverage following the
remarks, Archbishop Prendergast said those who request a doctor-assisted death
would not be able to receive the sacrament of the sick. A priest could come and
pray with them, and perhaps try to dissuade them, he said.

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