London, England, May 29, 2021 / 14:01 pm
Citing Pope Francis’ warnings against false compassion, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales’ life issues chairman has criticized a new proposal to legalize assisted suicide. He emphasized the need to care for the suffering, not legalize the means for them to die with the aid of doctors.
“Life is a gift to be valued and cherished until its last breath, through natural death, which opens into the promise of eternal life,” Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, said May 25. Legalizing assisted suicide, the bishop continued, would “fundamentally change the relationship between the doctor and the patient, as it would change to it from treatment and care to assisting another’s death.”
“Although this new bill is framed as a compassionate response to those in the last stages of their life, such compassion must be denounced as ‘false compassion’ as Pope Francis reminds us,” said Sherrington, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster. “A ‘true compassion’ he says, is ‘the just response to the immense value of the sick person’. It finds expression in treating the dying person with love, with dignity and by making use of appropriate palliative care.”
Baroness Meacher, an independent member of the House of Lords and chair of the assisted suicide advocacy group Dignity in Dying, on May 26 proposed a private member’s bill to legalize assisted suicide, rephrased as “aid in dying” by its supporters. Those who are terminally ill and who have been given no more than six months to live would be able to seek assisted suicide.