Catholic bishops in Queensland have issued a pastoral letter warning against the legalisation of euthanasia in Queensland.
The move comes as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited the state’s Governor to mark the official beginning of the election campaign.
Palaszczuk’s Labor Government supports euthanasia and has delayed disclosure of a planned bill until after the election.
But Palaszczuk’s Labor Government may now regret its push for euthanasia with the Catholic bishops making it an election issue.
Two Australian states, Victoria and Western Australia, have legalised euthanasia.
In their letter the three Catholic bishops write that:
“The Catholic Church is opposed to voluntary assisted dying. However, the Church strongly supports high-quality palliative care, respect for patient autonomy, preservation of personal dignity and a peaceful end to life. Nobody is morally compelled to suffer unbearable pain, nobody should feel like a burden, and nobody should feel that their life is worthless.”
The bishops write that research shows that many people do not understand the Church’s position on end-of-life care.
“Misunderstandings may lead people to support voluntary assisted dying (VAD) legislation on mistaken assumptions about what dying entails and how the Catholic Church teaches one should respond to it.
“There is confusion about the right to refuse or end treatment, about the moral legitimacy of advance care planning, about the use of pain-relieving medications, and about when hastening death may be morally acceptable.
“Moreover, many people struggle to see the potential implications for society as a whole of legalising intentional killing of another person, even in strictly limited circumstances.
The bishops say that societies in which life is cheap suffer from many maladies and injustices.
“But where the meaningfulness and purposefulness of life are held sacred from cradle to the grave, for the just and the wicked, for rich and for poor, in short, for all, a society can genuinely care for the common good. Because in such a society there is always the opportunity for a change of heart, for a conversion of the mind, for love and mercy to shine through.
The bishops also highlight remarks by Pope Francis, saying that he “has encouraged Catholic people everywhere to resist euthanasia and to ensure that the elderly, the young and the vulnerable are not cast aside in what he has called a ‘throw-away culture’”.
“Instead, the Pope calls us as Catholics to follow Jesus Christ by accompanying people at the end of their life with all the skill of palliative medicine and all the compassion of the human heart, since true palliative care embraces the whole person, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. That is the ‘care-first’ approach which the Church supports being made available on a statewide basis – an alternative path to that of assisted dying legislation.”
The bishops say that they are investigating the development of a training program within Catholic communities to help people better understand what choices they already have and what pathways already exist to ensure a dignified and peaceful death.
“The aim is to train facilitators who can guide people to the experts they need and who can provide opportunities for those experts to interact with people in their particular contexts from time to time in a formative way, ”they say.
FamilyVoice has previously warned the Palaszczuk Government not to open the door to state-sanctioned killing and that it is appalling that there is a push for euthanasia during a time when many Australians are experiencing severe anxiety during the corona pandemic.