Archbishop Richard Smith has issued the following statement following introduction in the House of Commons of Bill C-41 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying):

Today, April 14, 2016, our federal government has introduced legislation that legalizes assisted suicide and euthanasia. As I have often said, this makes legally acceptable in some circumstances what is morally wrong in every circumstance: the taking of innocent human life. It is deeply worrisome  to see law thus separate itself from a fundamental moral norm.

Time is needed to study this bill. What is already clear is that this legislative step introduces into law the chilling message that some lives are less worth living than others. In a truly just and ethical society, our communal response to those who suffer is not killing but compassion. In this respect I repeat the urgent call echoing throughout Canadian society for increased access to good quality palliative care.

From numerous conversations held throughout the Archdiocese of Edmonton I have heard from many people who are profoundly troubled by the legalization of assisted suicide. I encourage all who are against this legal development to: make their views known to elected officials;  continue their advocacy on behalf of palliative care as the more just approach to people who suffer; and demand that the conscience rights of healthcare workers and institutions be honoured and protected.

+Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton