How can we respond to the legalization of euthanasia in Canada?

Call to oppose Bill C-7

Contact your political representatives – The federal government recently introduced Bill C-7, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), loosening rules and expanding eligibility for medically-provided euthanasia / assisted suicide.

On Oct. 20, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement condemning Bill C-7, identifying the need for palliative care, and calling on Catholics and all people of good will to contact elected officials to express opposition to the legislation. The CCCB statement also affirms: “Similarly, all Canadian legislators should recall that no law that permits the taking of innocent human life can ever be morally justified” and raises the question: “How can the federal government in good conscience expand the eligibility to euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada when our country and its citizens are still unable to offer basic human care to the elderly and dying?” Find the Catholic bishops’ statement at: CCCB link English or CECC link French

Other groups are also opposing Bill C-7 and the expansion of eligibility for medically-provided euthanasia. Recent statements include:

  • Joint ecumenical and interfaith statement  – in English and in French;
  • Statement by the group of disability advocates opposing Bill C-7, prepared by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and Inclusion Canada and endorsed by a broad spectrum of disability rights advocates (formerly Canadian Association for Community Living) – in English and in French;
  • Statement by a group of physicians opposing Bill C-7, prepared by concerned physicians and endorsed by over 600 physicians in Canada – in English and in French. To view signatories see their website: www.MAID2MAD.ca,
  • Statement by a group of legal professionals opposing Bill C-7, prepared by the Christian Legal Fellowship and endorsed by over 140 legal professional / students – the statement is available in English and in French at LINK.

 

Call to Conscience:

With physician-assisted suicide (euthanasia) now legal in Canada, healthcare practitioners and facilities in some provinces are in a compromised position. Those who cannot support assisted suicide or euthanasia because of their conscience, faith, or commitment to the Hippocratic Oath are forced to compromise their convictions. This is wrong.

The Coalition for Healthcare and Conscience is working to protect conscience rights of health care professionals: Canadians for Conscience

How to Get Involved:

Protection of Conscience: www.canadiansforconscience.ca/

Vulnerable Persons Standard: www.vps-npv.ca/

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition: www.epcc.ca

Finding the Gifts:

“Finding the Gifts” is a video project funded by the Knights of Columbus. The Communications and Education sub-committee of a Bishop’s Advisory Group produced the videos hoping to capture the gift of life and hope that can be found even in difficult circumstances. View the videos here:

 

Palliative Care

Suicide Prevention

L’Arche: a community of caring

Care for the Elderly

Dying Healed workshops:

The Dying Healed workshop teaches important issues about human suffering, human dignity and the power of human presence, as well as other end of life issues.

The workshop includes important pastoral and practical aspects of what to say, how to listen, and how to be with people who suffer illness, disability and loneliness. It is intended to be a preparatory training for those who would like to spend time with people who are elderly, ill, disabled and dying; those people who are the most vulnerable to the negative influences to Canada’s euthanasia and assisted suicide law.

Those interested in hosting a Dying Healed workshop can contact Jacqueline Saretsky at (306) 292-5531 or Email jsaretsky@rcdos.ca for more information.

Ongoing advocacy:

Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan issue three texts related to the issue: 

The documents released Feb. 6, 2017 include:

  • A Pastoral Letter – Living Through Our Dying  – The bishops say that the Pastoral Letter is “addressed to our brothers and sisters in faith and all people who have the gift of life. Our aim with this letter was to initiate a dialogue with our culture, recognizing that many struggle to see our opposition to PAS as an expression of compassion. We wanted to articulate what we stand for (more than what we oppose), to recognize the challenge of placing our trust in God, and to extend the invitation to hope that our faith offers.”
  • A Pastoral Reflection – Jesus: the Word Who is Life  This text is directed towards parishioners, and could be used as a homily (for instance during Lent) or for catechetical purposes. It works from a paschal perspective, speaking of human dying under the headings of Jesus in our living, our dying and our hope for resurrection. The bishops say the Pastoral Reflection “situates the Paschal Mystery as the foundation of our understanding of the meaning of human dying. It is intended to be formative catechesis primarily for our own faithful, but it may well be of use to our Christian brothers and sisters as well.”
  • A set of guidelines for priests, deacons and laity providing pastoral care to the sick and dying – Care for the Dying: Pastoral Directives which the bishops say are “intended to give support and guidance to those ministering to people facing the end of their lives. It was our hope to write guidelines which would equip those in ministry to follow Jesus faithfully, while extending his invitation of faith and life to those tempted to choose the circumstances of their own death.”

The three texts were released Feb. 6, 2017 – exactly two years after the Supreme Court decision that struck down the ban on physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. The new reality came into effect across the country when Bill C-14 received royal assent in June 2016. The documents from the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan were released to mark the World Day of the Sick, Feb. 11.

Other pastoral letters from the Saskatchewan bishops on issues raised by legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia include:

Death with Dignity

FAQ – Video 1

FAQ – Video 2