Killing me softly at St. John’s Shaughnessy

Unlike ACNA, the Anglican Church of Canada has not taken a position on euthanasia, preferring instead to waffle extensively on the subject.

To that end, St. John’s Shaughnessy sponsored a meeting with two doctors who euthanise their patients – only upon request, we are assured –  to further their indecision about whether it is better to kill the aged or take care of them.

The choice of venue holds some irony, since St. John’s is the parish that, having kicked out an active ANiC congregation, was likened by the imported congregation to a mausoleum and is itself crying out to be euthanised – if only someone would listen.

It still amazes me that euthanasia doctors constantly assure us that the process is dignified, painless, and relatively inexpensive, yet, when it comes to executing convicted murderers, we have nothing but problems and disturbing signs of distress. Hasn’t it occurred to prison authorities that the medical profession is awash with doctors with all the experience needed to kill people with dignity?

From here:

Death With Dignity – British Columbia & Oregon

Two medical doctors shared with about 80 people gathered at the Synod Office conference room adjacent to St. John’s, Shaughnessy (SJS) February 27 their experiences of how they help people die in British Columbia and Oregon. The forum on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) was sponsored by SJS, along with St. Philip’s, Dunbar and Christ Church Cathedral. A Death with Dignity program has been operating in Oregon for 19 years following a 1994 referendum. Court injunctions delayed implementation till 1997, at which point Oregon became the first state to let patients determine the time of their own death.
In British Columbia, the Medical Assistance in Dying program followed a 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, and has been in effect for the past eight months after federal legislation (Bill C-14) received Royal Assent on June 17 last year.Dr. Charles Blanke, a professor of medicine at the Knight Cancer Institute in Portland, talked about the similarities and differences between the Oregon and the British Columbia programs.

Dr. Blanke said people sometimes bring up the Hippocratic Oath because it specifically prohibited the administration of fatal poisons. He noted the ancient Greek oath also forbids abortions which are legal and accepted by many in both the US and Canada.

Anglican Church of Canada takes a prophetic stand on euthanasia

After a year of studying, conversation, theological reflection and discernment, the Anglican Church of Canada has produced a report on Canada’s recent law permitting state sponsored assisted suicide. The report boldly proclaims that it is a reality – it is actually happening. Really! It is!

The ACoC is neither for nor against euthanasia because it doesn’t want to upset anyone; upsetting people is reserved for same-sex marriage.

From here:

In a nod to changing times, the Anglican Church of Canada’s latest report on physician-assisted dying, rather than opposing the practice, recognizes it as a reality. The report offers reflections and resources around assisted dying and related issues, such as palliative care.


In a statement accompanying its release, Primate Fred Hiltz acknowledged that everyone would like the fact that the argued neither against nor in favour physician-assisted dying. “A report like this is not going to please everybody because it doesn’t give a direct answer, and that will frustrate some people,” Hiltz said. “But…to give a direct answer is, in fact, to alienate people over very sensitive and complex issue.”

The article goes on to note that the law allows assisted dying only to those who are either near death or whose death is “reasonably foreseeable.”’ The Anglican Church of Canada itself falls into that category and, I understand, will soon request to be put out of its misery.

The Anglican Church of Canada vacillates on euthanasia

In much the same way that it has submitted to cultural trends on same-sex marriage, the Anglican Church of Canada, rather than taking a stand either way, has decided to recognise euthanasia in Canada as a “reality”. In church terms, this is known as being prophetic; or is it missional – I don’t know, this jargon is so confusing, isn’t it?

In contrast, the Anglican Church in North America states in its constitution:

God, and not man, is the creator of human life. The unjustified taking of life is sinful. Therefore, all members and clergy are called to promote and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death.

This would be a difficult idea for ACoC theologians to grasp since they are still divided on whether the concept of sin is a reality, let alone whether its only remedy is Jesus Christ – after all, we don’t want “to alienate people over a very sensitive and complex issue”.

From the Journal:

In a nod to changing times, the Anglican Church of Canada’s latest report on physician-assisted dying, rather than opposing the practice, recognizes it as a reality. The report offers reflections and resources around assisted dying and related issues, such as palliative care.

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down last year a ban on physician-assisted death for the “grievously and irremediably ill” as unconstitutional, notes the paper, entitled In Sure and Certain Hope: Resources to Assist Pastoral and Theological Approaches to Physician Assisted Dying, released Thursday, June 9.

In the wake of this decision, the paper states, “public debate concerning the legal ban on physician assisted dying is in some ways over.”

As a result, the authors continue, “our energy is best spent at this time ensuring that this practice is governed in ways that reflect insofar as possible a just expression of care for the dignity of every human being, whatever the circumstances.”


“A report like this is not going to please everybody because it doesn’t give a direct answer, and that will frustrate some people,” Hiltz said. “But…to give a direct answer is, in fact, to alienate people over a very sensitive and complex issue.”

Death by government

As I was listening to the news while driving home this afternoon, there were a couple of items whose startling juxtaposition clearly escaped the sensibilities of the announcer. The first was the tragedy of a “suicide crisis” in Attawapiskat, followed closely by a lament that not all the recommendations of a committee investigating government assisted suicide would find their way into law.

Evidently, we have reached some kind of bizarre consensus where do-it-yourself suicide is a Bad Thing, but suicide through government sponsored execution is a Good Thing.

From here:

Attawapiskat suicide crisis subject of emergency debate in House

NDP MP Charlie Angus opened the emergency debate on the Attawapiskat suicide crisis by calling for a groundswell of political will that will put an end to Band-Aid solutions for the problems facing Canada’s First Nations.


“When I think that there are communities in our country where … young people in groups are deciding that there is no hope for their future, we must do better, we have to find a way to go forward,” said Philpott.

And here:

The Trudeau government won’t be taking a permissive approach to medically assisted dying in new legislation to be unveiled as early as next week, The Canadian Press has learned.

Sources, who aren’t authorized to speak publicly about the imminent bill, say it won’t adopt some of the most controversial recommendations from a special parliamentary committee.


It will not allow people diagnosed with competence-impairing conditions like dementia to make advance requests for medical help to die, which the committee advocated.

Nor will it include mature minors, to whom the committee recommended extending the right to choose assisted death within three years.

Anglican Church of Canada to make a prophetic announcement on euthanasia

But before it does so, it wants to make sure it doesn’t say anything too definitive because, after all: “There’ll be some Anglicans who-as the Primate said-strongly welcome this, and there’ll be others who think this is terrible, and others who are more ambivalent.”
In other words, expect the usual wishy-washy muddle.
From here:

In the wake of a historic ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada on doctor-assisted suicide, an Anglican task force is looking to hear the views of interested church members on this controversial issue.


He invited church members to articulate their concerns, potentially with reference to their own experiences, in order to help the task force determine its actions going forward.

Submissions to the task force should be sent to the Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully, director of Faith, Worship and Ministry, at [email protected]

Some Anglican reactions to Canada’s doctor assisted suicide ruling.

The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down Canada’s existing Criminal Code prohibition on euthanasia and assisted suicide, declaring them to be constitutional rights. Parliament has a year to come up with a replacement law. This ruling follows the pattern of the Supreme Court’s throwing out of Canada’s abortion law in 1988. As I’m sure you are aware, no law has replaced it and Canada is one of the few countries that has no abortion law whatsoever: a baby in the womb can be legally murdered at any stage in its gestation. For those of you in your golden years: don’t get sick and inconveniently occupy a hospital bed: they will be coming for you – and your organs.

Here are some reactions from North American Anglicans.
ACNA’s is straightforward:

The Anglican Church in North America is committed to defending life from conception to natural death.

The Anglican Church of Canada has a diversity of opinions on the matter, “diversity” being the only intact dogma left in the ACoC.

Care in Dying: A Consideration of the Practices of Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide was published in 2000 and commended for study across the church by General Synod. While acknowledging the diversity of opinions on the matter within the church, the report suggested that the church should “oppose any shift in public policy leading to the legalization of euthanasia in our society at the present time.”

Bishop John Chapman from the Diocese of Ottawa – the bring out your dead diocese – is ecstatic.

I’m ecstatic…Current practice, prior to the new legislation, has been so black and white that it has been unhelpful for those people who are living with unbearable suffering. This new legislation actually now puts the decision back into the hands of the individual, medical professionals, and drawing upon the strength of their faith to make a determination about what action they should take. It’s a compassionate decision.

Funnily enough, just after this ruling descended, Toronto City Council endorsed the proposal to install platform-edge doors in the subway system to prevent suicides. Health regulations dictate that suicides can only be safely prescribed and performed by doctors. The anti-suicide doors will cost around $1billion, apparently. Think of the money saving opportunities in simply wheeling euthanasia candidates onto inward facing ramps on local subway platforms. I understand Bishop Chapman is preparing a generous pastoral response for those eager to participate in missional subway terminations. It’s only a matter of time before this makes it into the Five Marks of Mission.

Bishop Charlie Masters responds to the Supreme Court of Canada decision removing legal prohibitions on euthanasia

7 February 2015

My dear brother and sisters,

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a deeply disappointing decision striking down Canada’s existing Criminal Code prohibition on euthanasia and assisted suicide, declaring these to be constitutional rights. The unanimous decision gave Parliament 12 months to legislate restrictions if it so chooses.

You can read an analysis of the decision on the Association for Reformed Political Action Canada website.  And the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s response is on its website.

As the issue has been presented by media in more palatable terms and with compelling personal accounts, public opinion has changed in recent years.  So while the decision will be widely applauded, the rationale for Canada’s historic legal prohibition of euthanasia and assisted suicide is largely ignored.

Like previous legal decisions that have undercut the Judeo-Christian moral foundation of our society, this decision favours the few who have politically powerful advocates and who’s stories have been given high profile in the media; but it ignores the harm that may come to the many who are politically weak, physically vulnerable, and have few if any advocates.

In anticipation of this decision, Father Raymond de Souza wrote in the National Post, “that to embrace euthanasia and suicide as constitutional rights involved three revolutions in jurisprudence: i) abandoning the legal principle that every life is always a good to be protected, ii) embracing the idea that suicide is a social good, and iii) removing the particular obligation of the law to protect the weak and vulnerable.”

Citing the experience of Belgium where euthanasia and assisted suicide were legalized in 2002 and where the safeguards have rapidly eroded and the categories of those eligible have grown to the point that even children can now be euthanized, Father de Souza, expects that soon “we will hear positive reviews from the telegenic advocates of expanding the number of suicides and people euthanized in Canada. They will have compelling stories to tell.  We will not hear from those who have no advocates – the isolated elderly, alone with no one to speak for them, judged to be burdensome to our health system. The disabled who will now wonder if their doctors are coming with counsels of death do not have fashionable advocates. The truly weak and vulnerable, the exploited and abandoned, do not hold press conferences.  The Charter becomes a tool of the powerful against the weak, much like medicine will increasingly become in the age of euthanasia and suicide.”  

Rather than give in to despair however, we Christians have constructive options.  We can pray and we can act.

In fact, we ought to pray and act because, in the Bible, we know that Jesus saw death not as a friend to be embraced when there is great pain, but rather as an enemy to be destroyed.  The One who came to conquer death said: ”

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (ESV)

How then should we pray?

  1. Pray that our elected leaders will carefully craft legislation imposing stringent limits on euthanasia and assisted suicide and that these will be scrupulously monitored and enforced.  The “ball” is now in Parliament’s court; if Parliament fails to act, the result could be one of the most unrestricted euthanasia regimes in the world.
  2. Pray for our physicians and their governing bodies. Pray that no physician or other healthcare worker would ever be required to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide against his or her conscience.
  3. Pray for the vulnerable – the elderly, the socially isolated, the depressed, the ill – that they would have loving advocates to encourage, care for, and protect them.

How can we act?

  1. Write to parliamentarians encouraging them to put in place stringent laws governing euthanasia and assisted suicide, laws which will provide maximum protection for the vulnerable, and absolute protection for medical professionals whose conscience will not permit them to be associated in any way with euthanasia or assisted suicide.
  2. Work to ensure that high quality, compassionate palliative care is available so those suffering terminal illness will be well cared for and able to live out their natural lifespan with dignity and minimal pain.
  3. Become involved as individuals and as churches in caring for and advocating for the vulnerable, the elderly, the lonely, the disabled, and the physically and mentally ill.  By becoming engaged in their lives, we can help people who otherwise might be attracted to death, choose life instead.
  4. Be bearers of the Good News. People need to know that they are not accidents of evolution, but were created by an infinitely wise, loving God who treasures them, and has given them inherent dignity and immeasurable value. They desperately need to be introduced to our Saviour who offers them unconditional love, forgiveness and spiritual wholeness. And they need to know that we too care for them and will walk with them.
  5. Become actively involved in Anglicans for Life Canada or Anglicans for Life (US).  Physicians can connect with Canadian Physicians for Life.

Because He lives and death is defeated,



Quebec legalises euthanasia

Quebec has voted in favour of legalising euthanasia.

I’m quite sure Quebec’s death dispensing doctors will be efficient and cost effective. US prison doctors, on the other hand, are incapable of finding a vein to administer the prescribed lethal injection to death row inmates; perhaps the US should outsource their executions to Quebec where death doctors will have had plenty of practice. It could provide a much need boost to Quebec’s economy. The paperwork would have to be bilingual, of course.

United Church attendees are enthusiastic supporters of euthanasia and abortion

This isn’t too surprising: on the rare occasion when I have had to sit through a United Church of Canada sermon, by the end of it I was longing for someone to put me out of my misery, too.

From here:

A majority of The United Church Observer magazine readers, most of them church goers, are more liberal in their views than the general Canadian population when it comes to ethical issues such as abortion, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, a survey has shown.

A significant majority (82%) of readers who participated in the poll said they support euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide when life support is disconnected at the request of a terminally ill patient. Only 48% of the general population gave their approval.


83% of readers and 69% of non-readers believe the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be left to the woman; 9 % of readers and 19% of non-readers said there should be laws prohibiting/restricting abortion regardless of a woman’s wishes.

Just what the Doctor ordered: a mobile euthanasia unit

Doctors will no longer make house calls to heal you, but they will make house calls to kill you – in Holland, at least.

In our never-ending quest to conform to a culture of death, the next step will probably be a do-it-yourself death kit available without prescription at the local pharmacy.

We could call it iDie.

From here:

The world’s first mobile team to administer euthanasia in patients’ homes will be launched next month.

Units will be dispatched when family doctors refuse to administer lethal drugs on ‘ethical’ grounds.

They are expected to send the number of euthanasia cases in Holland soaring, with pro-campaigners claiming they will end the lives of an additional 1,000 patients a year.