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On June 17, 2016, euthanasia/assisted suicide became legal in Canada.

By October 2016, 374 Canadians had already died by lethal injection.

Euthanasia may be defined as intentionally bringing about death by active intervention, or by neglect of reasonable care in order to end suffering.

Physician-assisted Suicide is when a person is prescribed lethal drugs with which to kill themselves, with the purpose of eliminating suffering.

There is real concern for the vulnerable and those struggling with mental health issues, especially those who feel isolated and alone.

Only 30% of Canadians have access to quality palliative (end of life) care.

Canadians should be given options that ensure the effective medical control of pain and, more importantly, loving accompaniment as they approach their final days.

“I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God […] Moreover, the act of euthanasia appears all the more perverse if it is carried out by those, like relatives, who are supposed to treat a family member with patience and love, or by those, such as doctors, who by virtue of their specific profession are supposed to care for the sick person even in the most painful terminal stages. […] The choice of euthanasia becomes more serious when it takes the form of a murder committed by others on a person who has in no way requested it and who has never consented to it. The height of arbitrariness and injustice is reached when certain people, such as physicians or legislators, arrogate to themselves the power to decide who ought to live and who ought to die.”

He affirms that human persons should never make the decision to die, but that dying with dignity means being cared for until natural death occurs.

And Pope Francis, in his Inauguration homily said, “The vocation of being a ‘protector’ [. . .] means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.  It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.  It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. [. . . ] Caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness [. . .] We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!”

Life is a precious gift, to be cherished from the moment of conception to natural death.

The Church fully supports the right people clearly have to accept, to refuse and/or discontinue the use of life-sustaining treatment and to allow death to occur.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment” (# 2278).

Catholics must weigh out, “What good can this treatment do for this person I love? What harm can it do to him or her?’

This is what Catholic theology calls ‘weighing the benefits and burdens of a treatment.’ If the benefit outweighs the burden, a person should request treatment; otherwise, it would be seen as morally optional.

Palliative care is also legitimate, even if it may hasten death—as long as the goal is to alleviate suffering.

Again we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “An act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator (# 2277).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2280, explains, "We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of."   

Despite talk of ‘compassionate death’, compassion is not expressed by killing those who are suffering. True compassion should drive us to do all we can to address people’s pain, loneliness or fear.

The Catholic faith sees the dignity of the human person, no matter the age, stage of development, or capability, as the fundamental right of every person and we must protect life from conception until natural death.

We have a choice then.

We can either show our concern for the sick and the elderly by caring for them and ensuring they are given adequate treatment, or we can encourage them to put an end to their lives or deliberately kill them.

The Catholic Church believes that dying with dignity really means dying cared for, with human contact and pain relief, which is possible when properly addressed by specialists in palliative care.

The response to this question is taken from the Catholic Organization for Life and Family:


“The Church does not consider suffering as a good in and of itself and we all have a duty to do everything in our power to eradicate or alleviate it. We need to discover how to be compassionate, how to enter into and share the suffering of others. There is no doubt that suffering challenges the very core of human life. Sometimes, in the face of overwhelming suffering, we must humbly acknowledge the limits of our capacity and the human condition – this is not easy to do in our technologically driven society where we are accustomed to getting what we want when we want it. The Church recognizes that suffering can have great meaning and redemptive power in the lives of those who are suffering and those around them. When suffering has meaning for the sufferer it can help to make it bearable. Christians believe that Christ brought human beings back to God through his Passion, Death and Resurrection; each person is invited to freely accept this reconciliation. Christians also believe that those who unite their sufferings to Christ’s with love participate in this work. Their feelings of anger and discouragement are then replaced by quiet hope, and, surprisingly, even by joy. Suffering is no longer pointless. They find in God, especially by receiving the Body of Christ, the courage and strength to live fully all the days of their lives in anticipation of the eternal life for which God created us all in His love.”

  1. Everyone has a “right to die”, including a right to take one’s own life, acting alone or with assistance.

This was not the ruling of the courts and until June of 2016 it was not the law of our country. The fear is that the right to die will become the obligation to die.

According to Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, “Palliative care is a human right. Different international programs are implementing it, but the true human right is to continue to be recognized and welcomed as a member of society, being part of a community,”

He went on to say that: Palliative care is a reaction to the “throw-away culture,” which renders normal euthanasia and indifference to others, which is why we must stress its importance today when one witnesses “the marginalization, discrimination and elimination of the most fragile human beings, such as those that suffer serious, disabling or incurable illnesses.”

  1. People who request “medical aid in dying” usually do so because they are experiencing severe, intractable pain and suffering.

Most requests for medical-aid-in-dying are not made by patients experiencing “untreatable pain or suffering”.

The most common reasons for requesting medical aid in dying were:

  • loss of autonomy (97.2%),
  • inability to engage in enjoyable activities (88.9%),
  • loss of dignity (75.0%) (including loss of control of bodily functions
  • Fear of inadequate pain control at the end of life
  1. PAS is legal, there are adequate safeguards in place to ensure proper application of the PAS law.

We know this is not true as many cases have already come forward.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide can never be safe.

Because terminally ill people are vulnerable to powerful feelings of fear, depression, loneliness, not wanting to be a burden, and even to coercion from family members, no law can adequately protect them from succumbing to euthanasia if it is available.

4.“Slippery slope” arguments against PAS are overblown. In European countries that allow PAS, there is no evidence that patients are being euthanized improperly.

  • People with non-terminal illnesses have been legally euthanized at their own request in several countries for nearly 15 years.
  • This has included certain eligible patients who have only psychiatric disorders.
  • In 2002, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg removed any distinctions between terminal and non-terminal conditions—and between physical suffering and mental suffering—for legally permitted PAS.
  • Between 2008 and 2014, more than 200 psychiatric patients were euthanized by their own request in the Netherlands (1% of all euthanasia in that country).
  • Among them, 52% had a diagnosis of personality disorder, 56% refused 1 or more offered treatments, and 20% had never even had an inpatient stay (1 indication of previous treatment intensity).
  • When asked the primary reason for seeking PAS/euthanasia, 66% cited “social isolation and loneliness.”

5. Doctors who conscientiously oppose PAS are perfectly free to refuse participation in it.

Pope Francis said this: Spiritual desolation is something everyone will experience at some point and when we see a loved one going through this darkness, we need to offer comfort and support with our closeness, not our counsels.

Last June Pope Francis responded to a reported euthanasia death by stating:

"We are called never to abandon those who are suffering, never giving up but caring and loving to restore hope".

So the Catholic Church believes that persons who are dying should be provided with care, compassion and comfort, including:

  • Appropriate medical care capable of providing comfort;
  • Pain and symptom management;
  • Social, emotional, spiritual and religious support;
  • Full information about their condition;
  • The opportunity to freely discuss their desires with health care personnel;
  • Full disclosure to any family member or any person authorized by the dying person to receive information; and
  • A degree of privacy that ensures death with dignity and peace.

As our call is to be missionary disciples, we are called as members of the Catholic Church to reach out to others – to be the hands, feet, eyes, ears and mouth of God in our world.

That includes looking after those who are dying.

The words of Sheila Cassidy, an English palliative care physician and author, describe perfectly how we see our challenge as a society and as individuals to be more involved in the care of those who suffer: “Those enduring great distress know that the cup cannot be taken away from them, but they value the presence of someone to share, however minimally, in their suffering – someone to watch with them during their agony. Jesus himself when wrestling with his fear in the Garden of Olives, begged his disciples to stay with him ‘Could you not watch one hour with me?’…”

Those of us in the Catholic Church are each called to answer this question when it comes to the dying; to help others die with true dignity, care and compassion.

“Let us pray that every sick person might always be respected in their dignity, and cared for in a manner adapted to their condition, with the concordant input of their families and loved ones, of the doctors, and of other health care workers, with great respect for life.”


Teresa Hartnett


905-528-7988 Ext. 2250
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Sarah Lintott

Office Administrator

905-528-7988 Ext. 2249
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