Gerard Bergie, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines, on Friday issued a statement on assisted suicide. It is presented here in its entirety without comment, pro or con:
March 4, 2016
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to legalize physician-assisted suicide the Government of Canada formed a Parliamentary Committee to assist in writing new legislation. The Committee has now made their recommendations known. What they have suggested is startling and should cause us great concern. I wish to highlight the most troublesome.
- In three years allow minors (those under 18) access to euthanasia/assisted suicide.
- Allow those diagnosed with dementia to have advanced directives requesting
- Permit those with psychiatric conditions to request euthanasia/assisted suicide.
- That all healthcare and long-term care facilities receiving public funding must provide euthanasia/assisted suicide.
- Physicians will be compelled to make a referral for patients seeking euthanasia/assisted suicide even when, in conscience, he or she believes this to be wrong.
The Government of Canada is expected to pass legislation to legalize assisted suicide by June 2016. I urge people of faith to make their voice known regarding these serious issues that impact so many especially the most vulnerable in Canadian society. Please contact your Member of Parliament to respectively express your concerns. You may also wish to visit CanadiansforConscience.ca and support the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience. The coalition represents a group of like-minded partners, including 5,000 doctors across Canada, who are committed to protecting conscience rights for health practitioners and facilities. Given tight timelines for this legislation, please take action no later than April 1, 2016.
Our faith teaches us that all life is sacred and that it is never permissible to take a person’s life of to assist them in taking their own life. Rather than support a right to die let us support a right to care for the person that brings meaning, love and life.
May Mary our Blessed Mother and our patroness St. Catherine of Alexandria pray for us.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gerard Bergie, D.D.
Bishop of St. Catharines
(The statement can be found on the diocese’s website, http://www.saintcd.com)