Erkebiskop Vincent Nichols i Westminster (London) skrev sist uke en artikkel i The Telegraph om aktiv dødshjelp. Zenit.org har i dag et grundig referat av artikkelen – som også kan leses i sin helhet her.
Dying Is the Most Important Step
The archbishop of Westminster is underlining the importance of death as a step toward fulfilling our spiritual nature, which should not be perverted by self-seeking assisted suicide. … …
He referenced the July 7 “significant defeat” in the British Parliament of a proposal that attempted to legalize aiding the terminally ill to seek assisted suicide abroad.
The prelate also recalled the July 10 “joint suicides” of British conductor Sir Edward Downes along with his wife, Lady Joan Downes, in Switzerland’s Dignitas clinic. … …
Archbishop Nichols stated that at the heart of the assisted suicide issue “lies the notion that we have an absolute moral entitlement to have whatever kind of death we choose.”
“This is surely the triumph of the philosophy that proclaims individual rights above all other considerations and the relativist insistence that what is good is a matter of personal judgment,” he continued.
As a consequence of this attitude, social structures are weakened, the prelate explained, “including the decline of the family as the core unit, the rise of anti-social behavior, the pursuit of profit at all cost and the increasing intolerance of non-materialist, philosophical or ethical views.”
He continued, “It can be summarized as the age of convenience; the pursuit of what we want despite its cost and impact on others.”
These issues stand out “most starkly” in matters of life and death, the archbishop pointed out. He asked his audience: “Are we really masters of our destiny?
“Is human life just something we produce, whether by sexual intercourse or in a laboratory, and ultimately to be created, aborted or disposed of at will?
“Are the senses of wonder at new-born life, or of duty towards the weak in sickness and old age, misguiding instincts that we must overcome if they conflict with our own convenience? Consequently, are we losing the capacity and skills to care for others, especially the vulnerable elderly?”
“Once life is reduced to the status of a product,” Archbishop Nichols warned, “the logical step is to see its creation and disposal in terms of quality control.”
This gives rise to important questions, he noted, such as who decides the quality of a life, and how to quantify values such as “suffering that is borne with patience,” or “enduring love and care for those in distress and pain.”
The prelate added, “If my life has no objective value, then why should anyone else care for it?” He affirmed that this notion of an “absolute right” to choose “a good death” undermines “society’s commitment to support fellow members in adversity.”
The archbishop asserted: “Once life is entirely subject to human decision in its beginnings and endings, then the horizon of hope is dramatically reduced.
“I may hope to be the agent of that decision. But the likelihood is that someone else will either take it for me, or guide me towards taking it. Once the coin of sovereignty over death has been minted, then it will be claimed by not a few.”
He stated that it is “better by far to acknowledge the spiritual dimension of every human being.”
This dimension encompasses the “capacity to go beyond the present, to search for and to cherish self-giving in love and to recognize that our better selves are formed and nurtured in a community, and not always one of our own choosing,” he explained.
Archbishop Nichols affirmed that this dimension helps us recognize, “in a way not visible to technological eyes, every human life as a gift to be cherished from its beginnings to its natural end.”
In this way, he said, “we grow in our humanity, rather than lose it.” The prelate asserted that “dying is the most important step a person takes.”
“It is a step towards the ultimate fulfillment of our innate spiritual nature,” he explained, “our capacity to know God, to know the fullness of the mystery of all things.”
The archbishop continued, “We have been created with this capacity and our best guide for living is to do nothing to dent, pervert or deaden it.”
“Life is a gift,” he affirmed. However, whether or not we accept this, Archbishop Nichols pointed out, “whether we approach our lives with or without a transcendental faith,” we can recognize the serious ethical and social dangers to which the “doctrine of unfettered personal autonomy is leading us.”