Irish Bishops’ open letter to legislators on euthanasia

“We appeal to legislators to respect the integrity of healthcare as a service to life from conception until natural death”

“We are conscious that, all across Ireland, many families are engaged day by day in accompanying loved ones who are terminally ill.  As an expression of our pastoral support, we have decided that ‘Care at the End of Life’ will be the focus of our annual celebration of the Day for Life next June.
“Whenever serious illness comes to our door, we need our family members and friends to stay close to us and to walk with us through ‘the valley of darkness’.  This can be an enormously difficult and challenging time for families, but it can also be a very privileged time.  Faced with the reality of their own mortality, many people, young and old, discover within themselves hidden reserves of faith, hope and love, which can often be an inspiration to those who accompany them. In that privileged time, there is an opportunity to express gratitude and to heal wounded relationships.
“We are aware that, by contrast, our legislators are currently engaged in discussing the legalisation of assisted suicide.  This is presented by some as a way of respecting the autonomy of a person for whom life has become unbearable.  In reality it is an abdication of the responsibility of society to support people who are terminally ill and their families, in living the final days and weeks of life as fully and richly as possible.  From our knowledge of what has happened in other jurisdictions, it is also clear to us that the availability of assisted suicide is very quickly extended to include people with all kinds of life limiting conditions, including intellectual disability, whose continued existence is perceived to be a burden on society.
“We take this opportunity to affirm the generosity and dedication of healthcare professionals, including chaplains, in caring for people who are terminally ill.  The care they provide bears witness to the healing that is possible even when there is no longer any possibility of a ‘cure’.  We appeal, in the strongest possible terms, to all our legislators, who are entrusted with the care of the common good, to respect the integrity of healthcare as a service to life from conception until natural death.”