Bishop O'Toole of Plymouth Speaks out on Assisted Dying



I was so glad to hear from a member of his diocese, that the recently ordained ninth Bishop of Plymouth, The Rt. Rev Mark O'Toole has also spoken out on the Assisted Dying Bill which is due to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday, 18 July.

The Bishop, ordained on 28th January this year at the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary and Saint Boniface, was formerly rector of Allen Hall seminary in West London. I have to say, I keep hearing good things about the work he is doing in Plymouth--Deo gratias!

In a pastoral letter issued last weekend, Bishop O'Toole warned that the Bill raises "serious questions" about what sort of society we want to be:
"Our faith teaches us that all human life is sacred. Respecting life means that every person must be valued for as long as they live. Whilst we believe every person should be given appropriate treatment in their suffering we do not always use extraordinary means to extend life at all costs.
"At the same time it is not acceptable to deliberately put an end to the lives of the disabled, of the sick or of dying people. The Catechism of the Church reminds us of this when it says, 'It is God who remains the sovereign master of life. We are the stewards, not owners of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.'
"The new bill marks a very serious moment for our country. It raises serious questions about what sort of society we want to be. Especially of concern is whether we will continue to promote a proper care of the dying, and of those who are vulnerable through disability or age."
The full Pastoral Letter, available to download here, makes the important point that we must live in a culture which sanctifies life, values and nurtures it. Society continually seems to be seeking easy ways to deal with difficult problems; whether that be abortion, or suffering and death. But we will not eliminate these things; they form an important part of life. What matters most is the compassion and care we have for those in difficult situations and we need to continually work to foster this attitude, not any idea that might lead to anyone in our society feeling they had no worth or that the appropriate course of action, given their circumstances, would be to commit suicide.

The Catholic Blogger Laurence England posted a very moving status on Facebook today:
I just asked a homeless man what he thinks of the proposal for assisted suicide.
Who in his situation would not complain that his situation is 'intolerable'?
His dad has just died, he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he has collapsed two days in a row, been in hospital and now dislocated his arm. He has been told that if the operation he is to receive does not clear the cancer then it will almost certainly be terminal.

He sleeps in a loading bay that smells of urine and now fresh paint.

He gets woken up by the businesses unloading their goods at 2am. He gets asked to 'move along'.

The police and PCSOs come and tell him to move on, and I expect they remove alcohol from him on a regular basis. He has nothing, but the bag in which his sleeping bag is contained and the clothes he stands in.

He said: "Assisted suicide? I would not even contemplate it."

I said, "Why?"

He said: "Because I've got the Lord Jesus Christ in my heart."
He sleeps in a loading bay that smells of urine and now fresh paint.
He gets woken up by the businesses unloading their goods at 2am. He gets asked to 'move along'.
The police and PCSOs come and tell him to move on, and I expect they remove alcohol from him on a regular basis. He has nothing, but the bag in which his sleeping bag is contained and the clothes he stands in.
He said: "Assisted suicide? I would not even contemplate it."
I said, "Why?"
He said: "Because I've got the Lord Jesus Christ in my heart."
'nuff said.

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