Bishop Egan Takes Action
The Catholic Herald reports that Bishop Philip Egan VG BA, STL, PhD has led the way once more today, asking parishes in his diocese of Portsmouth to hold a Holy Hour of prayer on Thursday night before assisted suicide is debated in the Lords on Friday.
In a message to those in his diocese he wrote:
“Even if you are unable to join the community for this Holy Hour, please at least pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament that day. In meeting Jesus, the Son of God, in the Holy Eucharist to receive His love and life, we are also contemplating the Perfect Human Being.
“Jesus is the One who shows us in His humanity the Way to true happiness and human flourishing. He calls us to live not for self and for transient goals, but for God and for the love of others.
“When you meet Him, please pray that Parliament will firmly reject this Bill. Pray too for the terminally ill, and for the generous and selfless doctors, nurses and medical staff who care for them. Pray for those who will die today.
“Pray for any relatives presently looking after a dying loved one. And pray for our country, that through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, there may be a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”Bishop Egan has taken this opportunity to unite his Catholic community in powerful, prayerful, rejection of the direction our society is taking. In doing so, he teaches his flock why this is not the right direction for us to take. This is not a singular action, but a continuing process of enlightenment in the diocese, see for example here, or visit the diocesan website and type "assisted dying" in the search bar.
Bishop Egan asks us to take individual action in a message released on his website today:
On Friday 18th July, Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying (Suicide) Bill goes to the House of Lords. There will be a debate, and perhaps a vote. Bishop Philip has asked all clergy to open churches on the evening before (Thursday 17th July) for an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He encourages every parish to unite together in prayer for the protection of life, particularly in its end stages. Even if you are unable to make it to a Holy Hour that evening, you are invited to spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.Noticeably, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury Diocese has also addressed this Bill. In a Pastoral Letter on the feast of Sts Peter & Paul, on the 29th June, he said:
After prayer, the most important thing we can do is write to one of the Peers in the House of Lords. Please do this before 18th July at the very latest. Advice on writing to a peer can be found: http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/Home/Featured/Assisted-Dying-Bill/Contact-a-Peer, where you will also find a helpful 2-page briefing about the Bill.
This legislation will be presented as a“compassionate” measure, whose sole aim is to relieve the suffering of the sick and the aged. Yet, it is far from compassionate to remove the legal protections provided for some of the most vulnerable members of society. The proposed change to our laws will license doctors to supply lethal drugs to assist the deaths of those expected to live for six months or less. If Parliament allows exceptions to the laws which protect the very sanctity of human life, it would be impossible to predict where this will end. In 1967, the politicians who legalised the killing of unborn children in limited and exceptional circumstances did not foresee how violating the sanctity of human life would lead to the wanton destruction of millions of lives. It is not surprising that many vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, are today worried by Lord Falconer’s “assisted dying” Bill. It might sound reasonable to speak of “choices at the end of life” – as the campaigners for euthanasia do – but what choice will be left for many?
The recent commemorations of D-day have reminded us of how an earlier generation was ready to face death in the defence of human life and dignity, in what Britain’s war-time Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, described as a battle for the survival of “Christian civilisation” (House of Commons, 18th June 1940). It is the Christian faith which has led us to recognise the sanctity of every human life, the value of every human person. In their quest for the elusive definition of“British values”, our political leaders need look no further for the foundations of our society. And whilst we recall the heroism of generations before us, we must not fail to recognise the great challenge for our own generation. We are now being called upon to defend the sanctity of human life amidst the growing threats against it.
Defending the value of the life and dignity of every human person, from their conception until their natural death, represents the great battle of our life-times, a battle we must fight with the weapons of peace. Together with Pope Francis, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, may you and I be able finally to repeat the words of the Apostle Paul:
“I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith …” (II Tim 4:7).
May it be so, for each one of us.