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Brisbane – To reject the bill on euthanasia and assisted suicide: this is what a petition launched by the Australian Catholics is asking for and which will be presented to the Parliament of the Australian State of Queensland where, in the next few weeks parliamentarians will debate and then vote on a controversial Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill that would legalise euthanasia in the state. In support of the petition, the Archbishop of Brisbane, Mgr. Mark Coleridge, who in an open letter urges Catholics, their families and friends to sign the petition. “These laws, if passed, will overturn foundational principles that have underpinned our medical and legal systems for centuries – the ethic of ‘do no harm’ and the prohibition on killing”, Archbishop Coleridge said in a letter addressed to all “friends of Christ”.
“We need to do all we can to protect Queenslanders rather than assist them in dying”, he notes. “Euthanasia and assisted suicide laws – argues Mgr. Coleridge – undermine the fundamental relationship of trust that should exist between a patient and their doctor. They have the potential to put vulnerable Queenslanders who are elderly or terminally ill at risk of wrongful death, including placing pressure on them to take their own lives so as not to be a ‘burden’ on their family and friends. We have seen this occur in countries overseas which have gone down this path”. Archbishop Coleridge has called on Catholics to sign a petition sponsored by HOPE, a single-issue coalition of groups that oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide. Archbishop Coleridge has also asked Catholics “to email your Queensland State Member of Parliament and urge them to oppose the introduction of these laws”. “This matter is now urgent”, Archbishop Coleridge said. Catholic voices of dissent among the population of Queensland have increased in recent weeks and various public demonstrations against euthanasia have been organized ahead of the crucial debate in Parliament.
The Catholic hospital network has openly rejected the path of euthanasia: “Vulnerable sick and elderly people in Queensland need your help to ensure these lethal laws are not passed in this state. We urge you to sign the petition and email your MP today, and ask friends and family to do the same”, reads a widespread appeal in Catholic hospitals. Among other things, Catholic doctors note, the proposed laws would prevail over the possible “conscientious objection” of hospitals, nursing homes and medical personnel who oppose euthanasia. Indeed, according to the bill as formulated, if dying patients are too ill or frail to travel and ask for euthanasia, hospitals could be forced to allow euthanasia in their institutions. A “March for Life” will be held in Brisbane on September 11 to protest against bills on euthanasia. The mobilization of the Church and the sensitization of public opinion, thanks to a work carried out in the territories by the various parishes, even going house to house, aim to ensure that the law is not approved in the legislative assembly of the state. The motto of the campaign against euthanasia is “Compassion never kills”.