Catholic Bishops in Ireland have urged politicians to reject moves to introduce assisted suicide and euthanasia, warning that not to do so would ‘reflect a failure of compassion on the part of society’.
The Council for Life and the Consultative Group on Bioethics, part of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ICBC), made their remarks in a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice regarding the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020, which is currently being assessed by politicians.
The bishops state that ‘the Committee would best serve humanity and the common good of society by recommending to the Oireachtas that this Bill should not be passed’.
Pointing out that the Bill does not make use of the term ‘suicide’, except with reference to amendments to the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act 1993, they note that is ‘essentially about making provision for a person who wishes to end his or her life, to make a formal declaration to that effect and to seek medical assistance in doing so’.
‘It is therefore appropriate to refer to the Bill as an ‘assisted suicide’ bill,’ they add.
Noting that palliative care already provides assistance to those who are dying, they say the Dying with Dignity Bill instead provides for the medical endorsement and facilitation of suicide.
This, they say, runs ‘radically counter to the common good, the promotion of which is a particular responsibility of the State’.
The bishops urge legislators to ‘honestly recognise’ the difference and ‘call things by their proper name’.
The bishops say their submission is rooted in the Church’s conviction ‘that we have a moral responsibility to care for our neighbour according to the Gospel image of the Good Samaritan’.
They warn that the Bill fails to require care givers to provide adequate palliative care for the terminally ill person, nor does it recognise the vulnerable patient’s state-of-mind or assess whether they may feel like they are under emotional and social pressure.
The bishops also voiced concerns that the Bill would coerce the consciences of objecting healthcare providers in order to facilitate something they know to be gravely immoral and utterly incompatible with their vocation to heal.
‘This burdening of conscience is unnecessary, disproportionate and seriously unjust,’ they add.Picture: A campaigner protests against assisted suicide. (CNS).