BANGALORE, India – Catholic officials in Kerala state have denounced the federal Law Commission’s decision to endorse the legalization of euthanasia.
In a statement released July 24, the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council urged the commission, part of India’s Ministry of Law and Justice, to withdraw its recommendation.
The bishops’ council said “the recommendations might cause far-reaching consequences.”
“Humanity is honored when a person lives up to his natural death,” the council said in a statement. “The government and society should take the initiative to provide more care and infrastructure for patients using advanced technology while those who have the suicide tendency should be given counseling.”
In early July the Law Commission made its recommendation to the federal government. It said if a person “is unable to take normal care of his body or has lost all the senses and if his real desire is to quit the world, he cannot be compelled to continue with torture and painful life.”
The commission’s recommendation is likely to bolster cases demanding legalization of euthanasia that are pending before the federal Supreme Court.
“The government should be a model to the people and provide care and treatment to the terminally ill. A responsible state can never allow its people to terminate the lives of those whom the society considers unwanted or a liability,” said Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes of Gandhinagar, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
“It is this conviction that motivates the church to run thousands of care homes for the unwanted disabled, sick and terminally ill,” he told Catholic News Service. The church “will definitely contact leaders of others faiths as they, too, will have a clear opinion on this,” he said.
Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, chairman of Indian bishops’ health care commission, told CNS that legalizing euthanasia “would open a Pandora’s box in India.”
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai told CNS, “It is certainly a matter of serious concern for the church.”
Pointing out that Maharashtra state had rejected a similar bill after church-led protests 20 years ago, the cardinal said, “The church will not be a silent spectator.”