The Former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey.
Austen Ivereigh is coordinator and co-founder of Catholic Voices in the UK. This article first appeared on its website
The letter from religious figures in favour of assisted suicide in Saturday’s Telegraph — among them the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey — presents a curious theological argument. “There is nothing sacred about suffering, nothing holy about agony, and individuals should not be obliged to endure it”, say the signatories, who add that helping terminally ill people to commit suicide should be viewed simply as enabling them to “gracefully hand back” their lives to God.
The first curiosity is their perception that religious bodies in the UK overwhelmingly oppose assisted suicide because they believe God wants people to suffer. Who says this? Not the Catholic or Anglican Churches, that’s for sure; they have constantly pointed out the need for more and more effective palliative care and hospice beds, precisely in order to not just relieve physical pain, but also provide loving care and support to those in their final journey. This is not something that the churches have merely talked about, but put into action: the network of hospices across the UK are the fruit of great energy and resources dedicated to the proposition that “last days are not lost days” (as Dame Cicely Saunders used to put it).
Indeed, the bishops’ point has consistently been that an assisted suicide would rapidly dissolve any support for this idea, by introducing the notion that a life which includes pain and suffering is less worthy of being lived, and of being protected.
The second curiosity is the attempt to create a theological justification for assisted suicide in defiance of the long-settled teachings of the Christian tradition (as well as other faiths).
Hit the link above for the whole excellent (short) essay.