TOWNSVILLE Bishop Tim Harris has spoken out strongly against euthanasia and defended comments he made likening a push to allow voluntary assisted dying in Queensland to “a mentality that existed in Nazi Germany”.
Bishop Harris said it was an important time to have a conversation on the “grim” topic following the Queensland Government’s committee hearings, which could result in new laws being presented to parliament early next year.
He joined other Catholic leaders across Queensland, including Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, in observing “Dying Peacefully – No Euthanasia” Sunday on November 17, advocating against the introduction of so called “voluntary assisted dying”.
“It reminds me of Nazi Germany; these are some of the things that people did because if someone was not 100 per cent, crippled, if they had something wrong with them, if they were aged or not of use to society any more the state then would select certain people and say we’ll experiment on you or we’ll kill you because you’re not worth anything,” he told parishioners during Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Townsville.
Bishop Harris said he was not surprised media picked up on his comments, and he stood by them.
“Everyone is referring to the reference with the Nazis. It (VAD) has that feel about it, for sure. It’s not exactly the same but it’s got that feel about it,” he said.
“A shiver goes up my spine with this whole matter.
“Both my parents had palliative care in the last couple of years of life and it never entered my mind that we would somehow have a law that would allow them to end their life prematurely.”
“They wouldn’t have wanted it, we didn’t want it.
“The point was the more chances I’ve got to say ‘I love you’, to me it’s worth every second of every day.”
During his cathedral comments, Bishop Harris said he was “not suggesting any evil intent” from people with a different view.
“Good people are believing that voluntary assisted (dying) is the way to go and I respect their views, but I’ve also got to be in there and say there is another way and challenge it, just as they’ll be challenging me,” he said.
“The Church wants to emphasise that we are created in the image and likeness of God and because of that it puts us right up there at the top in terms of God’s creations.
“Our bodies are the temple of God and his Holy Spirit and you don’t muck around with that, you respect it to the very end.
“I believe to assist someone to die in an intentional manner is clearly intentional killing and the Church does not believe in intentional killing.”
Instead, Bishop Harris said there should be more attention on improving palliative care services.
“A state-sanctioned voluntary assisted suicide can have all the safeguards it likes but even then things can go wrong; the best safeguard is not to do it,” he said.
Archbishop Coleridge said Catholic support for better palliative care was grounded in the common good of society.
“Better end-of-life care begins with better conversations about death and dying, and how we can die well in ways that do not undermine the foundational values of our society,” he said.