Quebec cardinal won’t refuse funerals for those choosing assisted suicide

| Philippe Vaillancourt | September 30, 2016 | 5 Comments
Cardinal Lacroix, CNS  file photo

Cardinal Lacroix, CNS file photo

Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec said he has no intention to follow in the steps of his fellow Canadian bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in refusing funerals for those who asked to be euthanized.

“I don’t plan specific directives aimed at refusing this support or refusing access to the anointing of the sick and the celebration of funerals,” Cardinal Lacroix said in a statement Sept. 29. The cardinal was reacting to a document published earlier this month by the bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, addressed to the clergy, in which they said these sacraments and celebrations may be refused for those opting for assisted suicide or euthanasia.

“The Catholic Church accompanies people in every step of their life. We do that in dialogue with every person and every family that wishes to be accompanied,” added the cardinal.

He also reminded people of everyone’s “unconditional dignity in the eyes of God.”

“This is why we will always opt for palliative care accessible for everyone instead of euthanasia,” Cardinal Lacroix said.

He recognized that recent changes in the laws of the province of Quebec and in the Canadian Penal Code offer “new pastoral challenges” for the Catholic Church.

In Montreal, Archbishop Christian Lepine also said he does not intend to ask his priests to refuse funerals for those who choose the now legal medically assisted dying.

In their 34-page Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons and Families Considering or Opting for Death by Assisted Suicide or Euthanasia, published in mid-September, the Alberta and Northwest Territories bishops said euthanasia is a “grave violation of the law of God.” They offered pastoral guidance and indicated that a person’s judgment may be impaired through “depression, drugs, or pressure from others.”

They said it would be “truly scandalous” if funerals were to become a celebration of the decision to choose euthanasia or assisted suicide. “Such a request for funeral rites must be gently but firmly denied,” said the document.

Vaillancourt is editor-in-chief of Presence info.

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  • Paula Ruddy

    Looks like the Canadians are beginning the much-needed conversation about the meaning of funerals. What is the official meaning of the funeral rite?

  • Yankeegator

    So many heretics within the Church. It is as if we are living in the time of the Arians…

  • Elleblue Jones

    Quebec isn’t Catholic and hasn’t been for many years so nothing surprises the rest of us in Canada.

  • DebraBrunsberg

    Sad, but not surprising. Just another Bishop who is of the world.

  • lcnorthon

    “The Catholic Church accompanies people in every step of their life. We do that in dialogue with every person and every family that wishes to be accompanied.” Well, yes, but we do NOT intend to accompany them to hell, do we?