English Bishop to Warn Faithful of Assisted Suicide Bill in Easter Homily

The Diminishing Place of Christianity in Society is Leading to Difficulty Distinguishing Between Good and Evil, Bishop Mark Davies Will Say

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Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, England, will use his Easter homily to strongly uphold the sanctity of human life against proposals to legalise assisted suicide.

The bishop will warn the faithful at Mass in Shrewsbury Cathedral on Sunday that a result of the diminishing place of Christianity in the life of British society is the struggle to distinguish good from evil.

He will say this phenomenon is felt most starkly in the value placed on human life and leaves vulnerable some of the weakest members of society, according to a diocesan press release issued on Good Friday.

In explicit criticism of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, which will be debated in the House of Lords over the summer, Bishop Davies will express alarm that the British Parliament should consider weakening the legal protections at the end of life at a time when serious and widespread concerns have been recently expressed over the care of the most vulnerable in places such as hospitals and care homes.

He will say that once God is forgotten “we are left in darkness and without this faith respect for the inherent sanctity of human life and the God-given dignity of every person cannot long survive”.

“Today in our country many consciences struggle amid the shadows as they try to distinguish between good and evil in everything which concerns the value of human life itself,” he will tell worshippers. “In a matter of weeks, a Bill will be brought before Parliament aimed at legalising assisted suicide. This Bill will seek to change long-established laws which uphold the sanctity of human life and protecting some of the weakest in society.”

He will add: “It is hard to understand that, at a time when there has been so much public concern about the care of the most vulnerable in our hospitals and care homes, we would be contemplate weakening, rather than strengthening the legal protection offered to some of the weakest and most vulnerable. How much we need what Blessed John Paul II described as that ‘ever new light’ shed by Christ on the true way of love and mercy ‘which our common humanity calls for’.”

Bishop Davies welcomed the public acknowledgements by British Prime Minster David Cameron and other political leaders of the huge Christian contribution to society but, quoting Pope Francis, will also correct the notion that the Church should be regarded merely as a humanitarian agency.

Instead, he will stress that the enormous contribution Christianity has made to Britain stems from faith in Christ Himself and he will stress the importance of Christianity continuing to be a to be a guiding light for British society.

The Bishop’s remarks on assisted suicide come just weeks before Lord Falconer’s Private Member’s Bill is debated in the House of Lords.

If the Bill is approved by peers it will go to the House of Commons where the Government will allocate time for MPs to follow their consciences in a free vote before the end of the year.

The Bill would permit doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to seriously-ill patients who request them.

Proposed safeguards include a requirement for two doctors to certify the patient is unlikely to live longer than six months. Two doctors would have to certify the person as being unlikely to have more than six months to live before the prescription could be made.

The Labour peer, Lord Falconer, who is supported by the campaign group Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society), claims the Bill will not lead to pressure on vulnerable elderly and disabled people to end their lives and that it will not be extended beyond those patients who terminally ill.

Opponents of the legislation argue, however, that wherever assisted suicide or euthanasia has been introduced the law has been abused and the pool of candidates has gradually widened – even to the point where children in Belgium can now request euthanasia.

At present, assisted suicide remains a criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to 14 years in prison under the 1961 Suicide Act.

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