Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 14, 2009
Archbishop squares off on euthanasia on talk show
Archbishop Richard Smith
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Legalizing euthanasia would weaken the trust between patients and doctors, Archbishop Richard Smith told a local open-line radio show.
"There needs to be that fundamental confidence on the part of the patient that the doctor will always do what the traditional Hippocratic Oath has said the doctor will always do - do no harm and uphold one's life."
The Edmonton archbishop took his campaign against Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde's bill to legalize euthanasia to AM930 The Light's open-line show with Wade Sorochan Sept. 3.
Smith has urged local Catholics to contact their members of Parliament to oppose the bill, C-384, which is scheduled to come up for debate in the House of Commons Sept. 29.
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He has already issued a pastoral letter that was read in parishes last month and has personally sat down with local MPs. The fact that the bill has even been proposed increases the sense of vulnerability of the elderly and terminally ill, he said. They should be able "to trust that the health care professionals will always and in every instance work to uphold their right to life."
In fighting the legislation, people also need to communicate to everyone "that regardless of the circumstances of their lives, regardless of the level of illness that they have been suffering, they are never, ever a burden and they are always, always a gift," Smith said.
During Sorochan's show, the archbishop revealed that the Edmonton MPs he has visited have been contacted by Catholics opposing the bill.
"I've been going directly to the members of Parliament in the Edmonton area and they are telling me people are contacting them in large numbers," he said.
"The other thing that members of Parliament tell me is that the most effective way to reach out to them is pick up the phone, knock on their door or personally write a letter. On an issue like this of such a fundamental importance, I would hope everybody would do just that."
Smith noted that the disabled community is up in arms over the bill. "Even the consideration, even the introduction of such a bill raises the question in some people's minds of the relative worth of segments of our population."
Asked if Lalonde's bill is responding to a societal need, the archbishop noted "those that promote these practices (euthanasia and assisted suicide) use language such as compassion, concern for the suffering and wanting to ease their pain and so on."
"Everyone wants to reach out with compassion to anyone who is hurting, especially in times of terminal illness," Smith continued.
"What we need to be really careful about is that this particular use of language - and I would suggest it's a misuse of language - is actually covering the central and unavoidable fact that in euthanasia, for example, we are dealing with the killing of another human being."
The archbishop stressed, "It is simply wrong to directly and intentionally take the life of another human being."
Smith maintained "a great number of Canadians still uphold the value of human life and its dignity that needs to get protected from fertilization to natural death."
But, at the same time, Canada suffers from "the tragic spectacle" of unlimited access to abortion, which is "a terrible, terrible attack on the dignity of human life," he said. Euthanasia, if legalized, would represent yet another threat to the value of human life.