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Catholic Bishops in UK Join with Other Faith Leaders to Oppose Euthanasia
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Catholic bishops in the United Kingdom have united with leaders of other faiths to express their opposition to a proposed legislation that would introduce "assisted dying" as part of end-of-life care.
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Euthanasia is a great evil, and part of the culture of death.
The bishops of England and Wales have submitted written evidence to the Health and Social Care Select Committee Inquiry into Assisted Dying, while Scottish bishops, along with other religious leaders, have issued a statement opposing a separate bill that is set to be debated in Holyrood, Scotland.
The bill being considered in Holyrood, sponsored by Member of Scottish Parliament Liam McArthur, seeks to legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill individuals if approved by the Scottish Parliament.
The joint statement from faith leaders in Scotland cautions against assisted dying, stating that it undermines the dignity of human life and erodes the common humanity of society as a whole.
The statement continues by acknowledging the motivation of those seeking change but asserts that assisted dying is not the correct approach to alleviate suffering. It highlights the potential danger of legalizing these practices, as vulnerable individuals may feel pressured to opt for assisted suicide.
The faith leaders express concerns about the impact of similar laws in other countries and the adverse effects it could have on vulnerable members of society, including the disabled and the elderly. They emphasize the duty to care for those who are suffering rather than facilitating the end of their lives.
The Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, and the Scottish Association of Mosques firmly maintain their opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The faith leaders call upon members of the Scottish Parliament to carefully consider the implications of the bill, express their concerns, and vote against it.
In parallel, evidence regarding the law on assisted suicide in England and Wales is being heard by parliamentarians in Westminster. Currently, assisting with suicide can lead to imprisonment for up to 14 years in England and Wales.
Bishop John Sherrington, as the spokesperson for Life Issues on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, submitted written evidence in January to the committee, cautioning that there can be no safe or limited assisted suicide law based on evidence from other jurisdictions, such as Oregon and Canada. The full text of his evidence was released on May 18.
Sherrington highlights that prescribing lethal medication for individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts would be a serious betrayal of the duty to save lives. He references examples from Oregon, where assisted suicide is permitted for non-terminal conditions, and Canada, which allows assisted suicide when death is not reasonably foreseeable. He also mentions Belgium, where assisted suicide has been extended to include children. Sherrington argues that any legalization of assisted suicide for terminal illnesses in England and Wales would likely face legal challenges on discrimination grounds and potentially expand to non-terminal illnesses and euthanasia.
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He concludes on behalf of all the Bishops of England and Wales by reiterating the Catholic Church's commitment to protecting and valuing life at all stages, regardless of physical or psychological limitations, and their opposition to assisted suicide as an assault on the inherent dignity of human life.
It is expected that the final report published by the Health and Social Committee will be used by pro-euthanasia campaigners to exert further pressure for the legalization of assisted suicide and/or euthanasia in England and Wales.
The legislation on assisted suicide is handled separately in different regions of the United Kingdom, including Westminster, Holyrood, and the parliaments of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, all of which are currently considering the issue.
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