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Australian church ‘no’ to euthanasia: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 29, 2010 p 7. November 3, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop Jeffrey Driver of Adelaide

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Adelaide has called for the government to put the question of de-criminalizing euthanasia to a national vote.

“If politicians believe voluntary euthanasia is a public policy priority of first importance, then let them seek an electoral mandate upon it,” Archbishop Jeffrey Driver told his diocesan synod last week.

“It is too significant an issue to be introduced any other way,” he said on Oct 21.

Dr. Driver’s comments follow upon church-wide denunciations of euthanasia in the wake of the new Labor government’s decision to debate the issue.  State legislatures in Australia have also taken up the issue, with the upper house of the South Australia parliament scheduled to vote on Nov 24 on a bill sponsored by the Green Party to legalise voluntary euthanasia.  A similar bill was defeated by a single vote last year.

On Sept 24, the Bishop of the North West Region of the Melbourne Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Philip Huggins told his diocesan newspaper that he was disappointed euthanasia was not part of the pre-General Election political debate.

“The question is: would people have voted the same way if they had thought a Labor Government, with the Greens, would as a first action promote a conscience vote on euthanasia in the Federal Parliament?” asked Bishop Huggins.

“There would be more integrity in taking such a proposal to the next Federal Election, allowing the community to weight this matter against other issues which might then shape their vote,” he said.

At last month’s General Synod, delegates unanimously passed a motion proposed by Bishop Huggins affirming the “sanctity of life; that life is God’s gift and that our task is to protect, nurture and sustain life to the best of our ability.”

“This motion conveys to the Prime Minister and Federal Parliament that we will not be silent on this issue, now or in the future,” he said.

At the Sydney synod, Archbishop Peter Jensen on Oct 11 also criticized moves to legalize euthanasia, saying “my fundamental problem with it is that we are sinners and we do not have the moral capacity to administer it.”

Dr. Driver told the Adelaide synod that he too was “concerned about the recent renewed push for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia around Australia.”

While some were frightened by the potential loss of “personal autonomy and the endurance of severe pain and suffering that terminal illness can bring,” the “legalisation of voluntary euthanasia” was not the “most helpful response to these concerns.”

“The prohibition against deliberate taking of innocent human life is what impels us to research and practise good palliative care,” Dr. Driver said, and also “frees the individual from constantly having to interrogate the hidden motives of others, and allows the sick and dying to accept their care without shame.”

Bishop Huggins told Anglican Media Melbourne that while “many people have hard and difficult deaths,” there was a “threshold we cross when our efforts are not focussed on protecting life, providing comfort and pain relief until life ends and the departed is entrusted to God’s eternal life.”


1. Dr Rosemary A Jones - November 13, 2010

Saturday, 13 November 2010

My Dear Archbishop,

I write with reference to your statement to the Synod about the current debate on voluntary euthanasia. I have been approached by a member of your clergy who is outraged by your stance in that it does not reflect the beliefs of the majority of worshipers. The retailing of a blinkered discussion by the “anti VE” camp does not nurture rational debate.

Then there statements such as- “The prohibition against deliberate taking of innocent human life is what impels us to research and practise good palliative care.” What an extraordinary thing to say. You seem to infer that medical research will founder on the decision of a small number of people to conclude their misery with utmost dispatch. That is I believe insulting to the motivation of researchers.

And then,
In his Synod speech, Archbishop Driver also said: “My prayer is the triennium of this Synod (the three years between meetings) will take us to a new phase of our life together; moving us from recovery to discovery, from rebuilding to renewing and from risk aversion to adventurous, missional risk taking.”

I’m sorry but this kind of motherhood statement will cut no ice with a dying patient. You have a role to comfort the dying; why don’t you stick with that and leave the rest to us?

Dr Rosemary A Jones

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