Monday 9 August 2010

Catholic archbishops should stop whitewashing anti-life policies

Euthanasia by neglect is a frightening reality of our world today, a society John Paul II rightly described as a culture of death. I know from personal experience the reality of how euthanasia by neglect is promoted. SPUC also knows about euthanasia by neglect because families often turn to us when they are most desperate. Indeed the secular media even know about it.

It is interesting to see that Archbishop Longley of Birmingham made dying with dignity the focus the Catholic Church’s Day for Life this year. Interesting, not least because his fellow archbishop, Peter Smith of Southwark (pictured) was interviewed in The Catholic Herald citing the Mental Capacity Act 2005 as his greatest achievement. I objected strongly to this, because the Mental Capacity Act extended the possible scope of euthanasia by neglect in English statute law.

The Herald interview was misleading with regard to a particular amendment to the Mental Capacity Act which Archbishop Smith claimed had been authored by Professor John Finnis of Oxford university. Archbishop Smith claimed that the amendment had provided a key safeguard against euthanasia by neglect. Thanks to correspondence I received from Professor Finnis, following my post on the Catholic Herald article, it was established that the amendment had not been authored by Professor Finnis and it was made even more clear that the amendment did not provide any real safeguard against euthanasia by neglect.

    It is sometimes suggested that lobbying of government by the church leaders in England and Wales, like Archbishop Smith is important, and indeed effective, in the promotion of a culture of life, because it assures the best that can be gotten from bad legislation.

    The truth is the interview in The Catholic Herald simply served to perpetuate the myth that all is well in the hands of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. The same myth was promoted by Archbishop Vincent Nichols during the previous governments’ attempt to force schools to teach anti-life and anti-family sex and relationships education. I thank Christ the Law-giver that the Gospel of Life is based on objective truth and not on the self-serving myths of prelates intent on co-operating with the government of the day.

    I have a number of questions for Archbishops Smith and Nichols:
    • Will you now urgently and directly inform Catholics and non-Catholics of the dire consequences of the Mental Capacity Act?
    • Will you provide quality pastoral assistance for individuals and families facing the threat of euthanasia, instead of just leaving it up to relatively small organisations like SPUC?
    • Will you now apologise for opposing SPUC’s campaign against the Act?
    • When will you stop whitewashing bad policies and providing cover for anti-life governments?

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