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Canada archdiocese gives guidance on MAiD

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J-P Mauro - published on 02/14/24

The Archdiocese of Edmonton has answered frequently asked questions about the Church's views and teaching on Medical Assistance in Dying.

As the Canadian government continues to promote and popularize Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), the Catholic Church is voicing its opinions on the matter. The Archdiocese of Edmonton has recently released a Catholic guide to MAiD, complete with frequently asked questions and statements on the Church’s views of the controversial program. 

The Canadian MAiD program allows individuals who are deemed eligible to seek assistance from a medical practitioner to end their lives. There are currently two methods of assisted suicide offered: “clinician-administered” MAiD, in which a doctor administers life-ending drugs to a patient; and “self-administered” MAiD, in which doctors prescribe life-ending drugs and eligible individuals take it themselves.

The guidance of the Archdiocese of Edmonton, titled “Hope and Dignity: A Catholic Response to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide,” pushes back against the name “MAiD,” and objects to euphemisms like “medical assistance in dying” and “dying with dignity,” when what they really mean is “the direct killing of a human being.”

The pastoral initiative reiterated the Catholic Church’s opposition to all forms of euthanasia: 

As Catholics, we uphold the dignity of all human life, from conception to natural death. We believe that every single life matters. We are committed to protecting everyone, especially the most vulnerable. We offer hope, mercy and love to those who suffer – not abandonment and death.

The guidance continues by explaining that the Catholic Church considers all human life to be sacred, as it “involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end.” The bishops write that “God alone is the Lord of life” and as such, no human being has the right to determine when the life of another human being should end. 

The guide instructs that it is the teaching of the Church that no Catholic is permitted to take part in MAiD, be it for themselves or for another person. This is because all forms of “euthanasia and assisted suicide are gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, our Creator.”

It notes that the stance of the Catholic Church does not mean that it wants people to suffer. On the contrary, the Church’s history of opening and operating hospitals to tend to the sick is an expression of concern for the suffering. The Archdiocese writes: 

From our Lord we learn that we are never alone in our suffering. His special love for the sick and his acts of healing call us, too, to be close to any who suffer and strive to lessen their pain whenever possible. Although we might not fully understand the mystery of suffering, our Catholic faith provides meaning and hope that our suffering will bear fruit that is everlasting.

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