PEREGRINATIONS - Canadian Catholic Perspectives and Reflections by members of the PERSONAL ORDINARIATE OF THE CHAIR OF ST. PETER
Friday, 2 December 2016
The World will Regret Euthanasia based upon Secular Religion
The Catholic Register in Canada reports that Dr. Margaret
Somerville, a world-renowned bio-ethicist warns that advanced Western nations
have made a fatal mistake with the adoption of euthanasia.
Here are excerpts from the article by Glen Argan:
The onset of state-sanctioned euthanasia represents a
“seismic shift” in values that the world will someday regret . . .
“I believe history will see the legalization of euthanasia
as the most world-changing decision of the 21st century, and that they will
view it with enormous regret,” said Margaret Somerville in a Nov. 26 lecture.
Among the moral values rejected by legalizing euthanasia are
respect for authority, the common good and a sense of sanctity, she said.
“I believe we all need a sense of the sacred whether or not
we are religious.”
. . . . In Edmonton, speaking at Providence Renewal Centre
during an event sponsored by the centre and Newman Theological College, she
said proponents of traditional values need to find ways to convince supporters
of progressive values to reject practices such as euthanasia.
“We’re never going to coerce the progressive-values people
to think differently, but we have a very good chance of persuading them,” she
One crucial step to that end is to be adamant about
eliminating the pain and suffering of the dying without killing the person
along with their pain, she said. Society has lost its ability to find meaning
in suffering, something that used to happen in a religious context.
In their judgment in the Carter case which legalized
euthanasia in Canada, the Supreme Court justices used the words “suffer” or
“suffering” 212 times, she noted.
Somerville recalled that when she began speaking of “the
secular sacred” about 10 years ago, “everybody got mad at me.” Religious people
maintained she was denigrating the sacred, while secularists and atheists said
she was trying to impose religion on them.
Yet perspectives such as atheism and environmentalism are
secular religions, Somerville said. “It’s a lot better if people have secular
religions than no religion at all.”
That sets the ground for dialogue in which those with
traditional values can argue that secularists have much in common with them,
she said. “That’s a very important move.”
For example, instead of speaking of the sanctity of life — a
term secularists reject — one should emphasize “a deep respect for human life.”
. . . . Working with
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, also an internationally known bioethicist,
Somerville says, “We’re going to give them some high-powered bioethics . . . ”