The Malta Independent on Sunday
Cherishing life: Bishops in new warning against morning-after pill and euthanasia
Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Gozo Bishop Mario Grech have launched a fresh warning against the morning-after pill and euthanasia in a Pastoral Letter entitled “Cherishing Life”.
In the letter, issued on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption, the Bishops said “We must always protect life, everywhere and at every stage. This is not enough. We must also work together to improve the quality of life in every aspect.
“We Christians have a special duty to cherish life because for us, human life is a gift from God, who alone is its master from the beginning to its end. No human being, therefore, can assume the right to directly destroy the innocent life of another, or to regard some people as having no value or as obstacles.”
They said the law “must protect the defence of every human life from its conception to death, especially when a person is in a vulnerable or disadvantageous position. In our country, we must all strive for the complete respect for the right to life, lived in its full dignity.”
“During the past few months, two particular issues that have been raised may threaten life at its beginning and its natural end,” the bishops said. “The life of a human being, from the very first days of its existence, can be threatened when pills or other medicines are taken with the aim that the life that has been conceived in the womb is prevented from developing, or rather, destroyed.
“The effect of certain pills in certain circumstances can be abortifacient. A person who is seriously living according to his or her Christian beliefs has the moral obligation to inform herself fully about all the effects of these medicinal products in order to take responsible decisions in favour of life. In case of scientific doubt on how these medicinal products work, the decision must always be in favour of the protection of life.
“The conscience of healthcare professionals, who may object to prescribing or selling these medicinal products because of scientific doubts about their effects, must be respected.”
Turning to euthanasia, the bishops said there were some who reason that when a person is going through unbearable suffering, human life loses its value and therefore this person has the right to be assisted to take his or her life.
“We understand the psychological and the physical suffering that the patient and his or her relatives go through. Certainly we do feel for each person who is experiencing such suffering. However, we also believe that the value of human life does not depend on whether the person is healthy or satisfied with the quality of his or her life. We also believe that euthanasia can never be in the best interest of the patient.”
Pope Francis has been very clear about this issue in several of his speeches. Indeed, he calls euthanasia and assisted suicide “serious threats to families worldwide” (Amoris Laetitia, 48).
“Every person has a right to treatment, and society has the moral obligation to provide medical services in defence of this right to life. Every person reserves the legal and moral right to refuse medical treatment that does not offer any hope, which involves exorbitant costs or inconvenience, or incurs severe pain and suffering. At the same time, however, every care must be provided to alleviate psychological and physical pain until the process of death takes it natural course.”
The bishops called on society to increase the measures and structures that offer solace and encouragement so that no one is put aside or considered burdensome on others.
“A society shows its merciful face when vulnerable people are supported and helped. In our country, we must strengthen our medical services in order to alleviate pain and assist all those who work in this sector to increase and extend the services already being offered in the community to so many patients with a terminal illness and to their relatives.”