October 11, 2005

Dear Faithful People in Christ,

I write to bring to your attention a matter of grave importance that calls for our prayer and action. Our federal Parliament could very soon be debating the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In June of 2005, a private member's Bill (Bill C-407) was given first reading in the House of Commons. Reports indicate that it will likely be given some priority by the federal government. Indeed, the Attorney General of Canada declared some months ago that it was time to look closely at the case of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Promoters will undoubtedly seek to frame this debate in terms of compassion for those who are suffering. However, true compassion consists in alleviating suffering and in showing special respect to the dignity of a person whose life is weakened. It does not and cannot consist in bringing that person's life to an unnatural end. In fact, what the Bill proposes is the taking of a human life when a person is most vulnerable.

In order to respond to the physical, emotional and moral sufferings of people of all ages, particularly those seriously ill or handicapped, including those in a terminal phase, we call on Canadians, including our elected representatives, instead, to promote palliative care and end-of-life care. Our legal system should be inspired by a culture of life in which each person feels responsible for the well-being of others until their natural death.

In our Catholic tradition, life is a gift from God and is, therefore, to be respected and protected from conception to natural death. Please contact the Prime Minister and your Member of Parliament to make clear your opposition to any effort to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. We must act without delay.

Sincerely yours in Christ our Lord,

+Marcel Gervais
Archbishop of Ottawa