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Portsmouth (UK) Bishop rallies faithful in opposition to euthanasia bill

Multiple Sclerosis patient Debbie Purdy (pictured with her husband) and activist Sir Terry Pratchett have been promenent campaigners for legalizing euthanasia, or assisted suicide, in the United Kingdom.
Multiple Sclerosis patient Debbie Purdy (pictured with her husband) and activist Sir Terry Pratchett have been promenent campaigners for legalizing euthanasia, or assisted suicide, in the United Kingdom.
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Bishop Philip Egan of the diocese of Portsmouth in England has asked the faithful of his diocese to oppose with vigour a euthanasia bill that is currently making it’s way through Parliament that would, if passed, make euthanasia legal by allowing doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to patients who request them who are deemed to be of sound mind and may have six months or less to live. It was introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Falconer, a Labour peer. “Please pray that Parliament will firmly reject this bill,” Bishop Egan said on Monday, declaring that the legislation could bring about “catastrophic collapse of respect for the infinite value of each human life and every human person, no matter how weak, vulnerable and ‘useless’.” The bishop has asked that a holy hour for the dfeat of the bill be observed throughout his diocese tomorrow.

In his official message on the legislation, Bishop Egan wondered if this bill was really the beginning of ambitions that come from a much more evil place. Is Lord Falconer’s Bill a prelude to a much darker ambition, the legalisation of euthanasia, so-called ‘mercy killing,’ the bishop asked. “ Euthanasia is now legal in three European countries (Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg), where, I am told, death-rates by euthanasia are rocketing, not least among the mentally ill and among children, and where the organs of those euthanatized can be harvested.”

Bishop Egan reminded his flock that “we are the stewards, not the owners, of the life that God has entrusted to us.” He also said that secularism is the clear context of the legislation. “For the context of this Bill is the secularism now ascendant in our British society and culture. Secularism is a philosophy, attitude and/or way of life that seeks human betterment chiefly through material means, based on debate and a moral code explicitly without the ‘sacred canopy’ of religion,” the prelate explained. “Secularism strictly separates Church and State, religion and public affairs. Indeed, it seeks to drive religion out of public and political debate and to treat religion as a private matter of spirituality and domestic ritual,” he stated. “It deprives society of its moral compass. As a consequence, vested interests, focus groups, legal precedent and law enforcement increasingly determine public morality, and this often leads to restrictions, in the name of equality, on personal religious freedom and public expressions of religion.” The Bishop said that secularism has completely redefined the meaning of being human. “What will come next? Is it too fantastical to think of babies by design, eugenics for all, involuntary euthanasia to shorten lives no longer valued, cloning and so on? This is a brave new world. This is not the natural way of life we have treasured,” he wrote. “This is not the Christian understanding of the sacred dignity and infinite value of human life, marriage and the family. It is in fact a dark world.”