Archbishop of Toronto speaks out against assisted dying

A cardinal's statement on assisted dying is to be read or shown by video today in more than 200 Catholic churches across the Archdiocese of Toronto.

'It is never justified' for doctors to kill, Cardinal Thomas Collins tells area Catholics

Cardinal Thomas Collins, seen here during a Vatican ceremony in 2007, is calling on the federal government to protect the vulnerable and those who care for them. (L'Osservatore Romano/Associated Press)

A cardinal's statement on assisted dying was read and shown by video today in more than 200 Catholic churches across the Archdiocese of Toronto.

In the statement, the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, calls on the federal government to protect the vulnerable and those who care for them.

"Dying is simply not the same as being killed," Collins said in the video, which the Archdiocese posted earlier this week to YouTube.

"We are grateful for physicians and nurses and others who offer medical assistance to patients who are dying. But it is never justified for them to kill."

I think that's religious discrimination.— Cardinal Thomas Collins

Collins says he's shocked by a parliamentary committee's recommendations that would force doctors to at least refer people to a physician willing to help someone end their life, including, in some cases, minors and the mentally ill.

The committee also recommended allowing people suffering from conditions like dementia to pre-schedule the date of their death.

The recommendations are "disturbing" and "should shock us to the core," Collins said.

"Instead of providing ways to hasten death, we should be providing palliative care for every Canadian, greater support for those with mental illness and help for those tempted to suicide."

Collins says it is unfair for the government to force doctors at publicly funded hospitals to act against their conscience. 

"Public funding — it doesn't come from some place in the sky, some place, some treasure chest," he said, speaking to CBC News from outside St. Paul's Basilica in downtown Toronto. "It comes from people, people who have moral convictions about this." 

"I think that's religious discrimination," he added. 

The archbishop has invited those who share his concerns to visit CanadiansforConscience.ca and join the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience.

Collins says the coalition includes more than 5,000 Canadian doctors with "a common mission to respect the sanctity of human life."

With files from Canadian Press

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