IN the lead-up to Queensland’s election next month members and volunteers of the St Vincent de Paul Society have been reminded of their organisation’s commitment to promote “the culture of life”, and take a stand against euthanasia.
With the Queensland Government promising to push ahead with euthanasia legislation (Voluntary Assisted Dying), Vincentians are reminded in their latest spiritual development and skills training bulletin of two relevant Bible commands “Thou shalt not kill” and “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is an influential voice across Queensland with 10,000 members and volunteers in 210 conferences (branches).
“… Too many countries have already passed euthanasia laws and there are signs that Australia is far from immune to the spread of this deadly virus,” the society’s training bulletin states.
“Since voluntary assisted dying (VAD) was introduced into Victoria several other states look like following its lead, one of which is Queensland.
“Worryingly, surveys indicate around 80 per cent of Queenslanders support the proposed legislation which would allow persons aged 18 or older to seek an assisted death if diagnosed by a medical practitioner as having an advanced and progressive terminal illness or neurodegenerative condition.”
With Vinnies committed to speak out against the causes of poverty and inequity, the latest bulletin, written by Sunshine Coast-based member Robert Leach pinpoints the false arguments supporting euthanasia.
“Advocates for euthanasia claim that all people have the right to self-determination; that they have the ‘right to end one’s own life at the time of one’s choosing’,” Mr Leach wrote.
“Thus, if a person feels that they have no ‘quality of life’ or that their life ceases to be worthwhile then, according to advocates, they have the right to end it.
“But, as Pope Francis recently stated: ‘Life is sacred and belongs to God, hence it is inviolable, and no one can claim the right to dispose of it freely’.”
The Vincentian bulletin points out that providing palliative care for all Queenslanders is crucial in the end-of-life debate.
A Parliamentary Health Committee report into aged care, end of life and palliative care highlighted the lack of palliative care specialists in regional Queensland and recommended boosting resources.
“Unsurprisingly, (Brisbane) Archbishop (Mark) Coleridge and other Queensland faith leaders also identified palliative care as critical in the ongoing end-of-life debate,” the Vincentian bulletin said.
“Now that it is proposed that suicide becomes an acceptable option in law, the Archbishop said: ‘one wonders what signal this sends’. With the advancements in health over the last twenty years there is a strong likelihood that a properly funded holistic palliative care system would make calls for VAD legislation redundant.
“An added concern about euthanasia is the ‘slippery slope’ argument.
“Experience overseas indicates the real possibility that once euthanasia laws are passed, no matter how tight the initial restrictions, efforts will be made to loosen them.
“The fear is that, in time, ‘pressure might be placed on the old and infirm to offer themselves for euthanasia as if it were somehow the duty of those who are not productive to stop using up essential service …’ The only appropriate standpoint is to insist on the value and inviolability of every human life and a commitment unconditionally to promote, in all its aspects, the Gospel of Life.”
The Vincentian bulletin quotes from Deuteronomy: “I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessings and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life.” (30:19)
The Church is finalising plans to mark an inaugural event “Dying Peacefully No Euthanasia Sunday”.
It will take place in Queensland on October 11.