“Causing the death of an innocent human being is causing the death of our own self,” said Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine in a strongly worded statement yesterday against Bill 52, legislation aiming to legalize euthanasia that is expected to face a final vote this week.
Lépine, known for his uncompromising support for life and family values, did not mince words about what Bill 52 would condone.
“In hastening a person’s death, … we are not helping them in dying, we are directly ending their life. It is to give our doctors the authority to kill patients who are vulnerable in certain circumstances,” he said.
A Quebec government committee released a report in March 2012 titled “Dying with Dignity” calling on the National Assembly to legalize euthanasia, or in its words, “to recognize medical aid in dying as an appropriate end to life option.”
Bill 52 — titled “An Act respecting end-of-life care” — was tabled in June by Pauline Marois’ Parti Quebecois government. In October the bill passed its second reading at the National Assembly with an 84 to 26 “vote in principle.”
The bill challenges Canada’s Criminal Code, which currently prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide and is under federal jurisdiction. The federal government has said that it will “review the implications” of the proposed legislation.
In his statement, Lépine said the bill hurts human dignity.
“We are called to choose unconditionally to respect life until natural death. As human beings, we are created to respect and serve life in all situations of fragility.”
“One cannot be the cause of death of another innocent person – even if that decision is regulated – without hurting our own conscience and human dignity,” he said.
The Archbishop will celebrate a special Mass Tuesday at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral to mark the World Day of the Sick.
In his already released World Day of the Sick message, Lépine stressed that “human dignity” is not based on “health.”
“Human dignity is not based on one’s health condition; it relies solely on the fact of being human, and belongs to each and every individual. Human dignity relies on everyone having the right to life, regardless of the tragedy that a person might be stricken with.”
“Human dignity involves respecting the life of every individual, for to eliminate a person’s life, as fragile and frail as it may be, is to eliminate that person’s rights,” he said.