Bishop Michael McCarthy Calls for Urgent Action on VAD Legislation03 September, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Queensland Parliament, in the next few weeks, will be debating and voting on controversial laws to make euthanasia and assisted suicide (Voluntary Assisted Dying – VAD) legal in our state.
The Church believes that euthanasia or assisted suicide is a grave moral act because it is the intentional and direct taking of an innocent human life. It is a practice that is in contrast to the vision of health care from a Catholic perspective, the first principle of which is “do no harm”. This means that the aim of medical care should be to heal someone who is ill, and if healing is not possible, then to care for that person until his or her earthly life is finally over. Scripturally, we see this approach in the parable of the Good Samaritan told by Jesus. The Good Samaritan did not abandon the stranger he met on the road, but ensured he received medical attention and other forms of care that ensured his life and dignity were respected. The act of euthanasia as a direct form of taking life is contrary to the actions of the Good Samaritan. Euthanasia is also contrary to other parts of the Sacred Scriptures, notably the Decalogue in the commandment of “Thou Shalt Not Kill” . These parts of the Scriptures call us to influence our society to be committed to healing and never harming; relieving pain and symptoms of illness and frailty; and never abandoning those in our care, and certainly not intentionally ending life.
Countering the Arguments of Compassion & Dignity
Often, the values of compassion and dignity are used to advocate for euthanasia. People refer to the need for a dignified death and that in some circumstances it is compassionate to allow a person to end his or her life. These arguments were made in the speech to introduce the legislation in the Queensland Parliament. However, as Catholics we have a different understanding of compassion and dignity founded on our first principle of health care: try to heal and if you cannot, then care. It is a principle that is at the heart of palliative care which needs to be more fully available throughout Queensland. Good palliative care is compassion in action for it alleviates pain and suffering and brings calm to a person in the last phase of earthly life. Palliative care, along with the vigil that families keep at the bedside of their dying loved ones, surrounding the person with love and affection and, with the prayers and the sacraments of the Church, form the basis of Christian compassion for a person in the last stage of life.
We also remember that human dignity is God-given. It is not like a commodity and therefore is not measured by the quality of life. From the moment of conception, made in the image and likeness of God, the human person carries that dignity into eternity. Dignity never leaves us. We uphold dignity by the care, respect and love we give and not by intentionally taking life away.
Many of us will have experienced what it is like to journey with a loved one in the last stage of his or her life. At that time, just like a baby in the womb, the human person is totally vulnerable. However, when our terminally ill loved ones are accompanied with good palliative care, and with love, and respect for their dignity and for their inalienable right to life as a human person made in the image of God, they can continue to live fulfilled lives to the very end.
A Chance to Respond
Following are some ways you can respond:
- I ask you to sign this petition to the Queensland Parliament, asking them to reject these euthanasia and assisted suicide laws. The petition is sponsored by HOPE, a single-issue coalition of groups who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Petition link: https://www.noeuthanasia.org.au/petition_2108_qld
- I ask you to email your Queensland State Member of Parliament and urge them to oppose the introduction of these laws.
Send an email to your MP link: https://www.noeuthanasia.org.au/petition_2105_ocp_qld
- Continue to pray for our leaders as they approach this vote, and for all those who are sick and vulnerable.
This matter is now urgent. I encourage you to make our Catholic voice known in this debate.