From the earliest times, Christ’s followers have set
themselves apart by their care of the vulnerable (Acts 4:34). Indeed, Christ
said, “By this love you have for one another; everyone will know that you are
my disciples” (John 13:35). Just as the early Christians were, we too, are
called to accompany and care for those who are suffering.
On 19 June 2019, the Victorian
Assisted Dying Act comes into effect. This law legalises euthanasia and
assisted suicide. Despite what the law may say, our Christian tradition affirms
that every life, including those of the sick and suffering, is sacred. For us, euthanasia or assisted
suicide are never part of end of life care.
Instead, we remain committed to healing – never harming; relieving pain and
symptoms of illness and frailty; withdrawing life-prolonging treatments when
they are medically futile or overly burdensome or when a person wants them
withdrawn, and never abandoning those in our care.
Here are three ways that those who conscientiously object to
this law can accompany people who suffer.
- For those who are or may be convinced that
taking their life is the only option left. May God intervene and show them His
- That when faced with pain and suffering – ours
or someone else’s – we respond with compassion and courage. May we do all we
can to alleviate the pain of those around us and respect their dignity.
- Seek inspiration by reflecting on Jesus’
passion, death and resurrection.
- Who do you know who is sick, disabled or elderly
and may be vulnerable? Visit them, call them, spend time with them. Show that
- Loneliness, loss of meaning in life and fear of
losing dignity or being a burden, are the most common reasons people seek
euthanasia and assisted suicide. Help to address these concerns in whatever way
- Link those you encounter with support services.
If you’re not sure who can help, Palliative
Care Victoria is a good place to start.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide will now be legal in
Victoria. All of us have a role to play in caring for those suffering as well
as becoming conscientious objectors by refusing to participate.
When we visit the sick and suffering, we visit Christ (Matt
25:34). Given there are over one million Catholics in Victoria, if each of us
do what we can, we will have a tremendous impact. We may not be able to change
the law now, but we can remove the need for it and resist it by refusing to
cooperate with it.
Many of the saints have been bold witnesses of conscientious
objection – heroically holding fast to the Truth amid difficult and trying
circumstances. Read more about their witness here.