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CCCB brief on Bill C-14 (“medical assistance in dying”) to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights

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As clearly stated in its previous statements on this issue, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops absolutely and categorically disagrees with any attempt at justifying or supporting a “right” to assisted suicide or euthanasia. This is based on the unchanging teaching of our Church, derived from the teaching of Christ himself, that these practices are always inherently wrong (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2276-79; St. John Paul II,Evangelium Vitae n. 66). For this reason, Bill C-14, which legalizes the killing of certain categories of persons, is a fundamentally unjust law. From the Catholic perspective, no amendments could legitimate the inherent evil in the premises behind the proposed legislation.

While the legislation is itself intrinsically and gravely immoral for the reasons stated above, there are particular characteristics of the current draft of Bill C-14 which make it even more damaging and dangerous to Canadian society. For example, it contains no protections for health care workers who refuse to cooperate in so-called “medical assistance in dying” or to give an effective referral, nor to institutions that refuse to provide the service for religious or conscientious reasons. Leaving such protections to provincial legislators or professional organizations (such as provincial colleges of physicians, pharmacists, or nurses) would result in a chaotic situation with conflicting rules between provinces and would effectively prompt the resignation or removal of many health care professionals. It could also potentially force the closure of hospitals operated under religious auspices, most of which are Catholic. These institutions employ thousands of physicians and tens of thousands of staff. At a time when our health care system requires more resources, not less, the federal government should not allow lower jurisdictions to drive conscientious health care practitioners from their professions.

It is also regrettable that Bill C-14 fails in what appears to be an attempt to limit the potential harm caused by legalizing assisted suicide, as in the criterion enunciated in section 241.2(d) (that a person’s “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable”). Every person who has reflected on their own mortal existence knows that their own natural death is not only reasonably foreseeable, but indeed inevitable. This “safeguard” will protect no one.

The teaching of the Catholic Church and the stance of the Catholic Bishops of Canada affirm the sacredness and dignity of human life. Suicide and euthanasia are contrary to the most profound natural inclination of each human being to live and preserve life. Furthermore, they contradict the fundamental responsibility that human beings have to protect one another and to enhance the quality of health and social care which every human life deserves, from conception to natural death.

Bill C-14, no matter how it may be amended, is an affront to human dignity, an erosion of human solidarity, and a danger to all vulnerable persons – particularly the aged, disabled, infirm and sick who so often find themselves isolated and marginalized. Moreover, it is a violation of the sacrosanct duty of healthcare providers to heal, and the responsibility of legislators and citizens to assure and provide protection for all, especially those persons most at risk. The passage of Bill C-14, occasioned by the seriously flawed Carter decision, will have devastating effects on the social fabric of our country that cannot be predicted today.


The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is the national assembly of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic Bishops. As its principal pastors who officially speak on behalf of the Church in Canada, the Bishops are the spiritual leaders and teachers of more than thirteen million Canadian Catholics. Forty-six per cent of Canadians are baptized Catholics.

Photo: Diocese of Hamilton

I Have Set Before You Life and Death – CCCB Message for Lent 2016

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‘I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU LIFE AND DEATH’
Message for Lent 2016
by the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I.,
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

The readings of the liturgy for the opening days of Lent invite us to focus on some basic questions as we begin our journey through this sacred season. What does it mean to repent and believe the Good News? What difference should faith make to our living and dying? How do we convert hearts and lives? The Old Testament reading for the Thursday after Ash Wednesday has particular significance this year for us as God’s people and as a country: I call heaven and earth to witness … that I have set before you life and death …. Choose life, so that you and your descendants may live…. (Deuteronomy 30.19)

The Supreme Court of Canada a year ago, in its decision in the case of Carter v. Canada, invited those in our land to choose death. Any adult suffering from an illness, disease or disability would have the option of physician-assisted suicide. Already, various voices in our country have argued in favour of this even being extended to minors. Appalling as that is, it is not surprising. Children as well as incapacitated adults are being euthanized in the handful of other countries where assisted suicide and euthanasia are now legal.

Throughout the Church’s funeral rite, we are reminded that each life and each death has an important impact on the life of others. In the words of Saint Paul, We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves (Romans 14.7). A consequence of this for Christians is that our mission and our glory is to defend and protect life from conception to natural death as a sacred gift from God, Source of all life.

This year, the Thursday after Ash Wednesday is also the World Day of the Sick. In his Message for this day, Pope Francis reminds us that when we experience suffering, pain and vulnerability, our faith in God is on the one hand tested, yet at the same time can reveal all of its positive resources. Not because faith makes illness, pain, or the questions which they raise, disappear, but because it offers a key by which we can discover the deepest meaning of what we are experiencing; a key that helps us to see how illness can be the way to draw nearer to Jesus who walks at our side, weighed down by the Cross. And this key is given to us by Mary, our Mother, who has known this way at first hand.

2015 Video Message for Christmas from the CCCB President

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The Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has videotaped his message for Christmas and the New Year. Entitled Goodness abounds, Bishop Crosby refers similarly to the theme of mercy which the Church celebrates this month and throughout the coming year as the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The production of this video has been made possible thanks to the collaboration with Salt + Light Television.

Pope urges for peaceful solution to conflict in Syria and Iraq – Perspectives Daily

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Today on Perspectives: Council of Cardinals announce a new Congregation, Pope meets with young people in consecrated life and with charities and bishops from the Middle East. Also, Sebastian Gomes brings us updates from the Canadian Bishops’ Plenary Assembly.

God entrusted the family to make the world domestic says Pope – Perspectives Daily

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Today on  Perspectives, Pope Francis concludes his catechesis on Marriage and the family, and we continue our coverage of the Canadian Bishops Plenary Assembly. Sebastian Gomes brings us updates on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and we learn more about our northern dioceses.

Pope Appoints Synod Participants; Day 2 of CCCB Plenary – Perspectives Daily

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Pope Francis appointed participants for the upcoming Synod on the Family, and the CCCB plenary continues in Cornwall. Sebastian brings us a full report.

We Remember – Nous Nous Souvenons: Canadian Bishops Commemorate 50th Anniversary of Closing of Vatican II

Today during the Plenary Meeting of the Canadian Bishops in Cornwall, Ontario, the Bishops of Canada and invited guests viewed this special video produced by Salt and Light Television to commemorate the contribution of the Canadian Church to the Second Vatican Council.

Produced by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, the video features the remaining Canadian “Fathers” of Vatican II as well as contributions by Cardinals Gérald Cyprien Lacroix (Quebec) and Thomas Collins (Toronto) as well as Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher (Gatineau), outgoing President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It was an honor and privilege for us to offer this film to the Bishops of Canada, and to recall with immense gratitude the contributions of Canadian Bishops to Vatican II and its continued implementation in our country.

Cultivating and Caring for Creation: Becoming Committed

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In preparation for Pope Francis’ new ecological encyclical, Laudato Si, which came out on June 18, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, led by Bishop Donald Bolen, have released a series of videos and study guides on how Catholics are leading and participating in a new commitment to respect and protect.

The series is based on a recent CCCB document on the environment and it includes 12 programs 10 minutes each, featuring interviews with Bishop Donald Bolen. The segments interweave papal teaching on the environment with interviews or presentations of various environmental initiatives that have integrated a healthy relationship with the environment into their Christian commitment and lifestyle.

See below for the study guide and video for Program Twelve: Becoming Committed

Study Guide

Goal

The goal of Program Twelve is to empower and strongly encourage the people of God to become informed about environmental issues – and to then act, accordingly.

Steps

1. Show the video ” Program Twelve: Becoming Committed”

2. Ask students to form small groups to describe the following impressions from the video:

  • How can I become more involved with the environment?
  • How is the environment and faith connected?
  • What did you know after viewing the video that you didn’t know before?
  • Which quote from what pope in this episode means the most to you and why?

3. Option for Take-Home Assignment. Using the internet links offered here, find more facts about:

  • Existing Catholic eco justice initiatives
  • The writings of Popes on the environment

4. Write 1.5 pages on the results of your research.

5. Group discussion

In groups, first share your short essays and then, asking one person to represent the discussion, make presentations to the class about any or all of the above.
Include suggestions on how students could start an ongoing eco justice project or become involved with local Catholic eco justice projects already in existence.

Cultivating and Caring for Creation: Think Globally, Work Locally

Ecology11

In preparation for Pope Francis’ new ecological encyclical, Laudato Si, which came out on June 18, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, led by Bishop Donald Bolen, have released a series of videos and study guides on how Catholics are leading and participating in a new commitment to respect and protect.

The series is based on a recent CCCB document on the environment and it includes 12 programs 10 minutes each, featuring interviews with Bishop Donald Bolen. The segments interweave papal teaching on the environment with interviews or presentations of various environmental initiatives that have integrated a healthy relationship with the environment into their Christian commitment and lifestyle.

See below for the study guide and video for Program Eleven: Think Globally, Work Locally

Study Guide

Goal

The goal of Program Eleven is to inspire students to learn from committed Catholic eco justice leaders in our communities who really are showing us a way forward.

Steps

1. Show the video ” Program Eleven: Think Globally, Work Locally”

2. Ask students to form small groups to describe the following impressions from the video:

  • What creative initiatives are being taken on a local level?
  • Why is it good to grow and collect your own seeds?
  • What did you know after viewing the video that you didn’t know before?
  • Which quote from what pope in this episode means the most to you and why?

3. Option for Take-Home Assignment. Using the internet links offered here, find more facts about:

  • Existing Catholic eco justice initiatives
  • The writings of Popes on the environment

4. Write 1.5 pages on the results of your research.

5. Group discussion

In groups, first share your short essays and then, asking one person to represent the discussion, make presentations to the class about any or all of the above.
Include suggestions on how students could start an ongoing eco justice project or become involved with local Catholic eco justice projects already in existence.

Cultivating and Caring for Creation: Do Not Despair

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In preparation for Pope Francis’ new ecological encyclical, Laudato Si, which came out on June 18, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, led by Bishop Donald Bolen, have released a series of videos and study guides on how Catholics are leading and participating in a new commitment to respect and protect.

The series is based on a recent CCCB document on the environment and it includes 12 programs 10 minutes each, featuring interviews with Bishop Donald Bolen. The segments interweave papal teaching on the environment with interviews or presentations of various environmental initiatives that have integrated a healthy relationship with the environment into their Christian commitment and lifestyle.

See below for the study guide and video for Program Ten: Do Not Despair

Study Guide

Goal

The goal of Program Ten is to introduce to the eighth theme of the CCCB document “Building a New Culture – Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment” and to discover that, despite all the “bad news” about the environment, our faith calls us to live in hope and to do whatever we can to bring about positive change.

Steps

1. Show the video “Program Ten: Do Not Despair”

2. Ask students to form small groups to describe the following impressions from the video:

  • What is the eight theme of the document and why is it important?
  • How is St. Gabriel’s Parish a green space?

  • What did you know after viewing the video that you didn’t know before?

  • Which quote from what pope in this episode means the most to you and why?

3. Option for Take-Home Assignment. Using the internet links offered here, find more facts about:

  • Existing Catholic eco justice initiatives
  • The writings of Popes on the environment

4. Write 1.5 pages on the results of your research.

5. Group discussion

In groups, first share your short essays and then, asking one person to represent the discussion, make presentations to the class about any or all of the above.
Include suggestions on how students could start an ongoing eco justice project or become involved with local Catholic eco justice projects already in existence.