Parishes across Queensland yesterday observed Dying Peacefully – No Euthanasia Sunday, breaking down the misunderstandings of the Catholic faith’s approach to euthanasia. Source: Brisbane Archdiocese.
A range of resource materials outlining the Church’s “Care First” approach of support for palliative care services as opposed to the introduction of voluntary assisted dying (VAD) were distributed at parishes yesterday.
The initiative was recommended by Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge as it became clear the issues of VAD and palliative care, which itself is much more than the sedation of pain, were not well understood in the community.
For example, the Catholic tradition affirms that a person can voluntarily stop treatment for a terminal illness that is judged to be overly burdensome or disproportionate. Alternately, a patient’s pain and suffering can be relieved, even if the medication intentionally administered for this purpose could have the foreseeable effect of hastening death.
None of these examples constitute VAD and each of them is perfectly compatible with the Catholic faith.
In a written message to the Catholic faithful – one of the resources distributed at the weekend – Archbishop Coleridge was clear not to impute bad faith or evil intent to those who saw things differently.
“We all want to be compassionate in difficult circumstances; we all value personal freedom,” he wrote.
“The difference is in the way we define what these mean in those circumstances; and in that task I am concerned to look beyond political expediency, economic myopia and ideological posturing.
“It’s more a matter of helping to chart a wise and genuinely human course into the future in a way that learns from the past.
“Our support for better palliative care is grounded in the common good of society. Better end-of-life care begins with better conversations about death and dying and how we can die well in ways that do not undermine the foundational values of our society.”
A Queensland Parliamentary Health Committee is currently preparing recommendations on aged care, end-of-life care, palliative care and VAD. The reporting deadline was delayed from November 2019 to March 2020.
Catholic churches observe Dying Peacefully – No Euthanasia Sunday (Brisbane Archdiocese)