“How great a lie …to make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living!” Pope Francis
Whilst hospital visiting an elderly and frail lady whom I didn’t know, asked whether I could answer a difficult question: “I’ve told the doctor that if I have another heart attack I don’t want resuscitating. Was that wrong?” I reassured her that she had nothing to worry about because we are not obliged to use extraordinary means to maintain life. I then explained that her decision was not a form of assisted suicide but that she had simply decided to leave matters in God’s hands.
That advice is totally in line with the principles of Church teaching, as described in the Day for Life cards that are available at the back of church.
The first principle is that we embrace life. Every person is loved by God and every life is a precious gift never to be destroyed or neglected. It is wrong to hasten or bring about death. God will call us in his good time.
The second principle is that we accept death. This means there is no obligation to pursue medical treatment when it no longer has any effect or, indeed, harms the patient, or where the risks or burdens of the treatment outweigh the likely benefits.
Both these principles should guide our decisions when faced with a medical crisis.
Needless to say, such important decisions are best faced with others – medical and care experts along with immediate and extended family members. The family, after all, should be the privileged place where we find mutual support and understanding.
In such discussions these two questions can guide us:
“Does this decision love and respect life?”
“Does this decision accept the inevitability of death?”
We should attempt to answer yes to both, as life itself is a gift from God and death but the gateway to new life with Him.
For further information go to: www.dayforlife.org
Finally, please do contact your MP and ask him to oppose the Assisted Dying (Assisted Suicide) Bill to be debated in Parliament in a month’s time. Contact details for Nigel Evans: House of Commons, London SW1 OAA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Other MP’s can be found on Parliament’s website: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/