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Alberta, Canada bishops issue document on ‘Sacramental Practice in Situations of Euthanasia’

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 09/19/16

This is what we have come to:

While the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada does not alter the truth that these acts are “gravely immoral,” it is “foreseeable” that priests will receive requests for the sacraments from Catholics contemplating these actions, the Alberta and NWT bishops stated in a document released Wednesday. As well as requests for confession and anointing of the sick from Catholics who might have arranged for or are considering assisted suicide or euthanasia, or from their families, priests can also expect requests for Catholic funerals “for persons who have been killed by these practices,” noted the 34-page “Vademecum for Priests and Parishes.” “How are we to respond with a pastoral care that at once expresses the Church’s deep concern for the salvation of souls and safeguards the dignity of the sacraments and the nature of her funeral rites?” wrote the six bishops, who are responsible for more than one million Catholics in five dioceses.

The document outlines the obligations of a priest when asked to confer the sacrament of penance or anointing of the sick in various scenarios, such as hearing the confession of a Catholic who has already requested assisted suicide or euthanasia, or is contemplating it — including the priest’s duty to uphold the inviolability of the seal of confession, and under what circumstance he must defer or deny absolution.

The latter would be called for if a penitent has “officially requested physician assisted suicide or euthanasia” and therefore is in an “objective state of sin,” having “incited and socially arranged for someone to kill them.”

You can read the complete document here.  It’s a 34-page pdf and well worth a look. We may be facing more situations like this in our own country soon enough.

Photo: Pixabay

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