(MONTREAL ) May 28, 1998 -- The Anglican Church of Canada's chief governing body has endorsed a report which says the church cannot support euthanasia or assisted suicide.
The 300 members of the Anglican General Synod meeting here this week, commended the report which states that such practices represent a "serious failure of human community". The report will now go to Anglican churches across the country for study and response.
Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton who proposed the motion, said the report was created to engage Christians in ethical and theological reflection relating to euthanasia and assisted suicide. Our purpose is not to try and tell the government how to act, but to help Anglicans become aware of the concerns surrounding these practices".
Bishop Matthews said Christians view life as a gift that is not ours to discard", and noted that every life must be considered in relation to those in the wider society.
The report states that the Christian response is always one of hope. "From this hope there arises the commitment to give all members of society, especially the most vulnerable, the assurance that they will be supported in all circumstances of their lives, that they will not have dehumanizing medical interventions forced upon them, and that they will not be abandoned in their suffering."
Although the report acknowledges that individuals on both sides of this issue hold genuine concern for the protection of human dignity, it states that euthanasia is likely to have different impact on different parts of society. "We are concerned about the impact that making euthanasia available would have on the elderly and the disabled. We are also concerned that women may be more severely impacted than men."
The report notes the Anglican church's long history of providing many forms of care and support for the dying, including palliative care and hospices which attempt to alleviate pain and maintain the dignity of life.
"Good medical practice sustains the commitment to care even when it is no longer possible to cure," the report says. "Such care may involve the removal of therapies that are ineffective and/or intolerably burdensome, in favor of palliative measures. We do not support the idea that care can include an act or omission whose primary intention is to end a person's life."
The report adds: "Our underlying commitment is that health care delivery as a whole should reflect the desire of Canadians to be a community that sustains the dignity and worth of all its members".
The resolution approved by General Synod asks that the report and supporting documents be circulated throughout the Canadian Anglican community and that responses be considered by next year by the Council of General Synod. The council meets in years when General Synod does not.
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Contact: Sam Carriere or Lorie Chortyk, General Synod News Room (514) 398-5192; Cell phones: (514) 953-7981 (Carriere) or (514) 953-8091 (Chortyk)