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A Practical Response to Physician Assisted Suicide

May 19, 2024

Pentecost Sunday


Dear Family in Christ,


                Permit me to connect some dots, and forgive me for the absurd number of hyperlinks.


                Last summer, a study released by the APA caught my attention: from 2011-2021, 1 in 5 teens seriously considered suicide. Among teenage girls, that number jumped to nearly 1 in 3, and 13% had actually made some sort of attempt at taking their own life. 


                Two months ago, my attention was once again caught by the Canadian Government’s decision https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2024-03-05/canada-backtracks-on-euthanasia-for-the-mentally-ill to delay the decision to make physician-assisted suicide available to those who suffer from mental illness. This of course has not come out of nowhere; our beloved country is something of a global outlier when it comes to this particular level of ‘health care’.


                Two weeks ago, an article came across my desk describing an Ontario woman’s experience of physician-assisted suicide. After receiving a terminal diagnosis, she was able to plan her death and the days leading up to it. “I’m getting everything I wanted,” and “I’ve kind of orchestrated everything.”


                In general, as a priest and confessor for not quite two years, and in particular over the past few months, I can tell you that these articles, statistics, and phenomena are no exaggeration of the circumstances we find ourselves in. The political, psychological, sociological, and spiritual ‘stars’ are aligning in such a way that we have crossed the threshold of concern as pertains to men, women, and children seeking to end their lives.


                Concerning suicide, the Church teaches with clarity and charity (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2276 - 2283). https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7Z.HTM If this is something you care about, I pray you’ll take the time to hear Holy Mother Church on this. One of our local pastors recently wrote clearly and succinctly on this in his own bulletin, and you can access that article here. http://www.fsspniagara.com/uploads/1/3/8/3/138354563/5_may_2024_.pdf

(Note: the article starts on the bottom of page 2, and then finishes on the first page)


                The most powerful witness I have encountered on this subject is that of a young man named Kevin Hines, who attempted to end his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Though one of many who have attempted such a jump, he is one of the few (approx. 1%) who survived. His story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcSUs9iZv-g&rco=1 is heart-wrenching and beautiful, and you can learn more about him and his ministry here. https://www.kevinhinesstory.com/ 

               

                When it comes to building a culture of life that defends and cares for the most vulnerable, especially at risk of suicide, we as the Body of Christ have work to do. Here in Niagara, we are blessed by the work of the Niagara Life Centre, https://niagaralifecentre.ca/ whose mission is to provide “affordable counselling services, and offer hope and healing to all; because no one should have to go it alone.”

Starting this Sunday and continuing through to Father’s day, Our Lady of the Scapular parish is once again partnering with NLC in their ‘Change is Good’ campaign, by which they seek to raise funds to be able to provide affordable, professional care to any and all who are in need. Please visit the main entrance of the church this Sunday to pick up your canister and for more information.


When we  participated in this fundraiser last year, I asked NLC president Rita Makubya why, given all the talk surrounding mental health, our government doesn’t fund their efforts. Her answer blew me away:


“NLC is primarily funded by churches and donations by individuals and businesses(mostly Christians) who believe in the cause. Our Christian mandate has impacted the receipt of government funding. Through the years… I have applied for many government grants, even from the Ontario Trillium foundation. Each time, we have been turned down. We are unwilling to compromise our Christian values, knowing very well that it is God who does the work of healing in people’s lives.

                Essentially, since NLC refuses to refer people to practices that contradict Christian morality (such as physician-assisted suicide), our government will not provide them with the funding they need. Instead, they rely on our generosity. I pray we can be of assistance.

 

A Blessed Solemnity of Pentecost to you all,

 

Father Corso

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