Using every weapon in his arsenal, Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins (pictured) wrote a scathing letter against new legislation that will make doctor-assisted suicide legal across the country, and had it read aloud at every Catholic Mass in his archdiocese on Sunday.
In his letter, Cardinal Collins decried the use of “blandly deceptive terms” like Medical Assistance in Dying, citing the Hippocratic Oath whereby medical personnel swear they will “give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel.”
Under the new ruling, the Cardinal wrote, killing a patient will now be seen “as a kind of health care.”
In February, 2015, the Canadian Supreme Court of Canada overturned the legal ban on doctor-assisted suicide, mandating that the federal government enact corresponding legislation within 12 months, including a revision of the Criminal Code. The landmark Carter v Canada case, passed unanimously, effectively legislated physician-assisted suicide across the land, declaring all laws to the contrary unconstitutional.
The federal government subsequently requested and was granted a six-month extension for implementation, and the new law will go into effect on June 6, 2016.
Though the legislation currently being proposed to Parliament will carry restrictions limiting the scope of physician-assisted suicide, it includes a series of 21 “recommendations,” including access to assisted suicide for minors, pre-scheduling of euthanasia in the case of dementia, and a requirement that Catholic hospitals provide euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The government-backed expert panel studying the issue also recommends forcing all doctors and other medical staff to participate in the killings and arranging for children and the mentally ill to be terminated on the advice of a “caregiver.”
The Cardinal noted that the new law will be in direct violation to religious freedom and freedom of conscience, by obliging people to participate in morally evil actions.
“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,” Collins wrote. It is “religious discrimination,” he said.
Moreover, once we make people’s worthiness to live dependent on how well they function, he said, “our society has crossed the boundary into dangerous territory in which people are treated as objects that can be discarded as useless.”
The Cardinal also recommends the faithful to write to their legislators expressing their opposition to the new law.
The state of affairs is past the point for gentle dialogue. As Collins put it: this isn’t merely a slippery slope we’re dealing with, the slope has already been “well-greased.”
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