Euthanasia, assisted suicide: Canadian Catholic bishops defend freedom of conscience

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided the federal External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada with a five point submission stating the opposition of the Catholic Church to physician assisted suicide and euthanasia, describing the latter practice as “murder.”

The fifth point in the submission was directed to freedom of conscience for health care workers:

On safeguarding freedom of conscience and religion, the Catholic Church believes and teaches:

Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order. ” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1738

It is the conviction of all the Bishops of Canada, together with the other clergy and members of the consecrated life, united with our Catholic faithful, that our country must at all cost uphold and protect the conscience rights of the men and women who work as caregivers. Requiring a physician to kill a patient is always unacceptable. It is an affront to the conscience and vocation of the health-care provider to require him or her to collaborate in the intentional putting to death of a patient, even by referring the person to a colleague. The respect we owe our physicians in this regard must be extended to all who are engaged in health care and work in our society’s institutions, as well as to the individual institutions themselves. . .

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