COLF Reaction to Supreme Court Decision in the Carter Case
February 6, 2015 is a sad day for our country. Today, Canadians are confronted with the sobering fact that their nation’s highest court has set itself up in direct opposition to the Law of God: “Thou shalt not kill”. By ruling existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide unconstitutional, the Supreme Court of Canada is giving some of us permission to kill. It would be difficult to overstate the gravity of the situation in which we find ourselves. As Christians and as citizens how are we to respond?
To begin with,Christ calls each of us to do everything in our power to serve the most vulnerable in our society, to eliminate suffering — but never at the price of eliminating those who suffer. Jesus reminds us, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew: 25:40 NRSV). As Pope Francis has repeatedly urged us, we must work to cultivate solidarity with those at the “periphery” of society, the weak, the disabled, the marginalized – the most vulnerable. Simply put, we must take more seriously the call to love one another!
Freedom of conscience
In the Carter decision, the Supreme Court bases its decision on false notions of autonomy and human dignity; these terms are being misused in such a way as to seriously weaken the common good. What of the autonomy, what of the rights, of the medical practitioners who may now find themselves pressured to provide what some euphemistically call “medical aid in dying”? What of the rights of citizens opposed to “assisted dying” who will now find themselves forced to finance, with their tax dollars, the killing of their neigbours? In this hour of crisis, more than at any time in our history as a nation, as citizens and as Christians, we have a moral obligation to uphold the rights of conscience and freedom of religion which are guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The consequences of failing to do so may prove dire.
Given today’s judgment by the Supreme Court, it seems only a matter of time before euthanasia is seriously proposed as a solution to End-of-Life-Care in our overburdened health care systems. Yet, in 2011, the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care found that 71% of Canadians surveyed favoured investing in improved palliative care. Now is the time to petition our elected representative to: 1. Work to limit the harm done by today’s judgment of the Supreme Court by initiating or supporting restrictive legislation and 2. By initiating or supporting legislation which would prioritize the allocation of resources to the improvement of palliative care across Canada.
We find ourselves at a crossroad. We must choose what kind of country we want, recalling that a society’s attitude towards its most vulnerable members is a sign of its level of civilization. We need to ask ourselves: Can anyone feel safe in a society in which the state, having relieved us of the responsibility of being our brother’s keeper, has given some among us permission to be his killer? How long will it be before YOU are numbered among the “useless” or the “burdensome”?
We must speak out against euthanasia and assisted suicide! To inform yourself and to assist family members, fellow parishioners and colleagues in understanding end-of-life care which eliminates suffering but not the sufferer, check out COLF’s Life-Giving Love Campaign. As Christians, each of us has an obligation to form our conscience and to defend life.
COLF is co-sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.