Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has issued a Pastoral Letter for the benefit of the Western Australian community regarding new legislation.
The voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) legislation will become effective in WA on 1st July 2021.
Simply stated, this will permit certain persons to access medications designed to cause their death. Also, the law will permit another person to provide assistance where the person choosing to die is unable to self-administer.
Be clear, The Catholic Church’s perennial teaching and tradition is firmly opposed to VAD.
“(T)he Church’s position rests on its constant interpretation of the fifth commandment of the Mosaic law: you shall not kill. This is, we believe, a commandment from God, the giver and sustainer of life. It is a law which pre-exists any government or any parliament. Governments have the power, given to them by those who elect them, to determine what rules are expedient in the societies they govern.”
The Catholic community really faces a two step response to the new law.
Firstly, we must prepare ourselves, recommit to our spiritual goals to see Jesus in ourselves and everyone we meet, particularly those in need such as the sick, suffering and elderly.
Secondly, we can learn how to support these people, and especially those in our own families. The Church has many healing and caring ministries and the community can foster, promote and actively support them.
“(The) conviction about the sanctity and inviolability of human life is one of the most foundational values by which we as Catholics live. We believe that every human life, from its earliest beginnings at conception to its final moments leading to death, is precious and sacrosanct. No-one has the right to “step in” and bring to an end a life that has begun under God’s providence and will come to its end under God’s providence.”
Archbishop Costelloe concludes,
“The VAD legislation has been passed and is about to become operative in Western Australia. I believe this is a tragedy for our society but I fully understand that not everyone sees it this way. For those who do, however, and for whom this is a question of conscientious belief about a matter of life and death, it is essential that we be able to live out our beliefs freely and with integrity.”
The full text of the Pastoral Letter can be found HERE
A copy of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 is linked HERE