Catholics around New Zealand will be invited to reflect on the idea that “the art of living well and the art of dying well are one”, this Sunday 9 October. The Day of Prayer to Respect Life is an annual Catholic Church event and this year’s theme centres on respecting and protecting human life by the way we care for the dying. It also encourages us to consider what it means to die well.
This focus on dying occurs at a time when euthanasia is in the public consciousness. There are ongoing calls by some for euthanasia to be legalised in New Zealand and there has been significant media coverage given to certain high profile medical cases in the past year. Such calls provide an opportunity to think again about the wisdom of Catholic teaching on issues that arise at the end of life.
In a recent statement for the upcoming general election, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops encouraged people to consider euthanasia and other threats to human life, such as abortion, when making their voting decisions.
“Above all else, we value human life and human dignity,” they said. “Human life is precious and requires protection from conception, throughout our childhood and adult lives, and to the end of our natural lives”.
A clear summary of Catholic teaching on euthanasia and care of the dying may be found on the website of The Nathaniel Centre – the New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre in the article Catholic Teaching on Euthanasia and Care of the Dying.
The Nathaniel Centre website also contains other information on palliative care and euthanasia including a large number of archived articles from its own journal – The Nathaniel Report.