TORONTO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Canadian cardinal is decrying the push to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia.
In a statement Thursday, Cdl. Thomas Collins, archbishop of Toronto, warned that such legislation will "threaten the vulnerable and the conscience of those who oppose it," also noting the legislation of such a practice, advertised as a "simple solution," would simply "hide killing with euphemisms."
Last week the Canadian government introduced a bill seeking to allow assisted suicide and euthanasia in response to a February Canadian Supreme Court ruling declaring patients with severe suffering or incurable conditions must be allowed to kill themselves. The court, per its decision, required complementary legislative action.
"We're all deeply concerned that this is a sad day for Canada," the cardinal stated Thursday. "The fundamental move towards implementing euthanasia or assisted suicide is itself troubling. ... Now, it's possible that giving a [lethal substance] is now going to be considered a form of health care. What have we come to?"
The cardinal also criticized using the expression "medical assistance in dying" to describe the practice. "That's not called dying," he remarked. "The word for that is 'killing.' To not know the difference between dying and killing is astonishing."
Cardinal Collins also expressed his concern over potential pressure that will be placed on the elderly to "hurry up" and die. "At a time when our priority should be fostering a culture of love, and enhancing resources for those suffering and facing death, assisted suicide leads us down a dark path," he affirmed, noting the "Hail Mary" prayer emphasizes "the hour of our death."
"In these days ahead, may that reflection guide us as in a spirit of love, mercy and compassion, we journey with all those who are suffering," he concluded.
Collins was joined by the other members of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in denouncing the law, calling it "an affront to human dignity, an erosion of human solidarity and a danger to all vulnerable persons." The bishops implored legislators to "consistently defend and protect the lives of all."
The details of the bill note those eligible for euthanasia or assisted suicide must be 18 years old or older, have a "grievous and irremediable medical condition" and must make a conscious decision to participate with the procedure. Assisted suicide is currently legal in five countries. In the United States, four states allow the terminally ill to take their own lives.