Bishops say Dying with Dignity Bill ‘fundamentally flawed’

Clerics call on Catholics to ask their elected representatives to reject legislation entirely

The Dying with Dignity  Bill allows for voluntary euthanasia and assisted dying. Photograph: iStock

The Dying with Dignity Bill allows for voluntary euthanasia and assisted dying. Photograph: iStock

 

The Catholic bishops have described the Dying with Dignity Bill, currently before the Oireachtas, as being deliberately deceptive and called on Catholics “to ask their elected representatives to reject it entirely”.

The Bill tabled by People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny seeks to legalise assisted dying and passed to committee stage last October after a vote in the Dáil. It would allow those with a progressive terminal illness to avail of assistance to end their lives under controlled and monitored circumstances.

The bishops said the Bill “wrongly proposes the deliberate ending of life as a way of conferring dignity on people with terminal illness. The opposite is the case”, the bishops said.

What it proposes would be more “appropriately described as ‘assisted suicide’, because it involves one person taking his or her own life, with the active participation of another”, they said.

“As we mark the anniversary of the arrival of Covid-19 in Ireland, and consider the enormous efforts that have been made across every sector of society to protect the life and health of people who are most vulnerable, this Bill is in clear contradiction with the shared commitment of our society.”

The Bill was “fundamentally flawed. It cannot be repaired or improved and we call on Catholics to ask their elected representatives to reject it entirely”, the bishops said.

‘Huge challenges’

At their spring meeting, which took place online last week, the bishops announced preparations for a national synod of the church in Ireland within the next five years. These will begin with consultations across the island.

“We are acutely aware of the huge challenges to the faith over the past 50 years from the rapid transformation and secularisation of society in Ireland bringing with it a major decline in practice of the faith and in the number of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life,” they said. “We hear a cry for transparency, greater participation and accountability in the church.”

They also acknowledged “the critical need to honour the contribution of women” and that “many people have left church behind and in some cases feel ignored, excluded or forgotten – we need to hear their voices also”.

At their summer meeting in June, the bishops plan to set up “a task group” to plan for the synod. It will be made up of lay women and men, including young people, religious, priests and bishops. From April 6th next a web page seeking ideas and suggestions will be available at catholicbishops.ie.

The bishops are also looking at revising texts used at Masses and in Mass leaflets, and invited people interested in changes to send ideas to liturgy@iecon.ie.