Catholics at parishes throughout the Diocese of Rochester will have a chance Feb. 4-5 to express their opposition to any legalization of physician-assisted suicide in New York state.
That weekend, which is the annual diocesan Public Policy Weekend, parishioners will have the chance to sign petitions and letters of opposition to physician-assisted suicide, and those letters and petitions will be forwarded to their state legislators in Albany. Public Policy Weekend is an effort of the diocesan Public Policy Committee, which identified the issue of physician-assisted suicide as its top advocacy priority for 2016-17.
Legislation has been introduced in the state Assembly (A02383) and Senate (S03151) that would allow terminally ill patients to request lethal doses of medication from physicians. On Jan. 19 the Assembly bill was sent to the Assembly Health Committee, which previously had approved a similar version of the bill in May 2016.
Catholics are called to be pro-life people who view life as a gift from God and should promote the dignity of life "from womb to tomb," according to Father Brian Cool, chair of the diocesan Public Policy Committee. Thus, Catholics will be asked to take a few minutes after Masses during the weekend of Feb. 4-5 to sign the letters or petitions they will receive in their parishes, noted Suzanne Stack, diocesan life-issues coordinator.
"Your participation is vital to saving lives, as state legislators pay attention to our letters and petitions," Stack said. "They will go a long way toward preventing physician-assisted suicide from becoming law in New York state."
Legalizing assisted suicide would send the message that some people, particularly the sick, elderly and disabled, would be better off dead, according to the letter parishioners will be asked to sign. The letter also notes the practice’s potential for abuse due to such factors as financial pressures from insurance companies or those who might stand to gain from a patient’s death.
The diocesan Public Policy Committee also has designated poverty and "Laudato Si’," Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on care for the environment, as its educational priorities for 2016-17.