Guarding against legalised assisted suicide

On Friday 11th September 2015 the House of Commons will be debating and voting on a Private Member’s Bill to legalise assisted suicide. It would ‘enable competent adults who are terminally ill to choose to be provided with medically supervised assistance to end their own life’. This means it would licence doctors to supply lethal drugs to terminally ill patients to enable them to commit suicide.

As a matter of urgency, Cardinal Vincent and the bishops of England and Wales are asking Catholics to write to their MP to oppose this dangerous bill.

Archbishop Peter Smith, chair of the Department of Christian responsibility and Citizenship, released the following statement on 7 July:

Very many people of all faiths and none will be concerned about a Bill to legalise Assisted Suicide in England and Wales which will be debated in the House of Commons on 11th September 2015.  This private members Bill, introduced by Rob Marris MP, will have a free vote and it is important that people make their views known to their own MP ahead of this extremely important debate. Information about the issues, together with resources and guidance will be circulated to all parishes in the next week or two.

There are excellent resources:

  • on the Bishops Conference website

www.catholicnews.org.uk/assisted-suicide

  • and the website of the Anscombe Bioethics centre

www.bioethics.org.uk

I strongly urge all Catholics to contact their own MP as soon as possible to express their concern about the dangerous impact which such a Bill would have on the most vulnerable people. MPs do listen to their own constituents. What is needed is more and better palliative care, not assistance with suicide.

With this in mind, Catholics are asked to write to their MP as soon as possible as Parliament will begin its summer recess on 22 July.

For a model letter to your MP which can be downloaded, filled out and sent, please click HERE.

For a Q&A on the Assisted Suicide Bill, please click HERE.

Taste and See: nothing but God

Detail of reredos, St Mary's Twickenham

Sunday is over, but the challenge and the joy of responding to the grace and hopefulness of Sunday remains ours.

The Liturgy, with the Eucharist at its heart, is the source and summit of the Christian life. We have been at the source, now we seek to live that life as we return to our daily tasks, our ‘everyday’ life.

Over these first days of the week which began with Sunday, the Lord’s Day, this blog resources our faithful living by reminding of elements of the Sunday Mass, beginning today with the Gospel.

The title of blog posts here on Living Eucharist is usually ‘Speak Lord…‘; over these next days (and on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of  every week) the title is ‘Taste and See…‘, indicating the opportunity to savour the food and drink gifted us in word and sacrament at yesterday’s Mass. Mystagogy is the technical name for that pondering on what we have received, digesting what we have been given to eat and drink…

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no ha.versack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’

So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

Mark 6:7-13

This weekend Proclaim 15 got a big launch in Birmingham. An initiative for a new evangelisation of England and Wales, to revive the nation (and the principality!) through a fresh sharing of the Gospel.

Cardinal Vincent was one of those speaking. His full speech is well worth reading, but a key part was he asked all to be missionary disciples attentive to the needs of the three Cs.

Our COLLEAGUES who have lost their way
These can be fellow Catholics who are resting: all those who cross the threshold of the church just every now and then. They have heard of Jesus; they have some of the words; they have a familiarity, of sorts, with the Church. Can we lead them, step by step, to know Jesus more clearly?

The CURIOUS
Curiosity, even if tinged with hostility, can be a marvellous opportunity if we are open ourselves and remember that within that curiosity may well lie the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If we forget that, then we are quickly on the defensive and the moment has gone!

The CRY of the human heart
A cry of confusion, pain, hunger, loneliness, need, anger.
Whatever action we take in response to the cry of the world around us must bring together the cry of prayer and the cry of pain. Only then can it be the mission of Jesus.
Our action should be effective. But even more so it should be prayerful, otherwise its effectiveness will not touch the deepest well of pain from which the cry is rising.

Often when reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel the focus is on the 12 and their success.

Give a thought too, to those they with whom they shared the Gospel, and the healing they received and the difference it made.

One of those healed by the 12 at that time may have in days and weeks that followed, shared the faith with someone, who shared the faith with someone else, who shared….. And eventually the someone faith was shared with may have been the person who brought faith to birth in you…

The Church is built on the faith of Peter, and of the 12. But lots of others have vital parts too.

  • How do you see your role in the mission of the Church?
  • What helps you fulfil it?
  • What might help you overcome any challenges?

Photograph of detail of rererdos in college chapel at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Marriage and Family Life

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Our Archbishop, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, wrote a pastoral letter, read at all Sunday masses on the feast of Pentecost.

The letter can be found in our newsletter over the next week, thereafter I expect it will be available on the Westminster Diocese website though I can’t find it there yet.

In the letter, the Cardinal spoke of the gifts of the Spirit and vocation – and especially the vocation to marriage and family life.

  • If you heard his letter what do you remember from it? What struck you by way of encouragement, challenge, even discouragement? Bring that to God in prayer…

The Cardinal spoke of marriage and family life, as well as being something precious to those directly involved, as having benefit for wider society – stablility, new life, love and generosity. He acknowledged the challenges and the sacrifice that faithfulness to the call to be authentic family, to be true to marriage vows. And he spoke of the experience of 20,000 years of married life, present in the couples at a Mass to celebrate significant anniversaries of their marriage at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday – that whatever the cost, it is worth it, that a marriage well lived is a priceless treasure.

  • What (more!) can you do to help your family develop its potential for good?
  • How can you support the love that is at the heart of the families and relationships of your wider family, your friends and neighbours?
  • And what other gifts of the Spirit have you received that you can give thanks to God for?

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Image: Cardinal Vincent Celebrates Mass in Thanksgiving for Marriage © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

Other image from somewhere on the web and tweaked by Allen Morris!