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Nuncio urges bishops: fight Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide Bill

By on Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Archbishop Antonio Mennini (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Archbishop Antonio Mennini (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain has reminded the Bishops of England and Wales of Lord Falconer’s forthcoming assisted suicide Bill, urging them to defend “the rights and dignity of every person… until the moment of natural death”.

Addressing the plenary meeting of bishops in Leeds this week, Archbishop Antonio Mennini said: “Thinking about the poor and most vulnerable, it is not inappropriate to mention that an attempt is to be made by Lord Falconer in January next year to bring back to the House of Lords yet another Bill to legalise assisted suicide. We know well that we have a duty in love to emphasise yet again the rights and dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.”

Lord Falconer of Thoroton’s draft Bill, which is yet to have its first reading, was introduced in the House of Lords in July and is the sixth attempt to legalise assisted suicide in 10 years.

Lord Falconer has described the current law on assisted suicide as a “disgraceful mess”, and tried to relax the law via the Coroners and Justice Bill in 2009. The last attempt to legalise assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia was defeated in May 2006.

Archbishop Mennini also called on the bishops to fight Government attempts to change the definition of marriage by following the example of the hierarchy in France.

He said: “We find that we are placed in a similar situation to the Church in France, where Cardinal [André] Vingt-Trois and the French bishops have issued a spirited appeal to the faithful asking them to do all in their power to resist so-called ‘same-sex marriage’. We surely can do no less and I thank all of you for your strong testimony.”

In France Archbishop Vingt-Trois has called gay marriage “a fraud” and said: “It will not be a ‘marriage for all’. It will be marriage of a few imposed on all.”

Cardinal Vingt-Trois has accused the government of trying to rush through gay marriage without a debate in French society about its implications, especially for children who would grow up without a clearly identified mother and father.

He said: “Has it asked citizens if they agreed to no longer be the father or mother of their child, but only an undifferentiated ‘parent A’, or ‘parent B’?”

The French bishops have also reinstated the traditional “prayer for France” in response to “grave” social changes, and Pope Benedict XVI has urged French bishops to defend marriage as the “foundation of social life”.

In Britain the Coalition Government introduced its consultation in March, although ministers have said they intend to go ahead with the move “with or without” Christian support. Gay marriage is supported by all four parliamentary parties in England, although opinion polls suggest that the public is evenly split. Last month the Prime Minister told his ministers to “prioritise” gay marriage despite backbench opposition.

Archbishop Mennini told the bishops of England and Wales: “On looking at your programme I see that once again you continue considering how best to present the teaching of the Gospel on the Sacrament of Marriage and how to defend family life.

“In that same homily, addressed to the Synod Fathers, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI affirmed: ‘That matrimony is a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today, especially the dechristianised world… There is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage. And, as the Church has said and witnessed for a long time now, marriage is called to be not only an object but a subject of the new evangelisation. This is already being seen in the many experiences of communities and movements, but its realisation is also growing in dioceses and parishes, as shown in the recent World Meeting of Families.’

“Why this insistence? We don’t want to quarrel and we know that it is not easy to obtain changes in the direction of governmental policies about the family or about life. We all know that we are swimming against the tide,” the nuncio said.

“But we must not be afraid because we are confident that Our Lord continues to love and support his Church. Our people need us to witness to a new way of judging the situations of our world.

“One of our first tasks is to educate our Christian people in a new way of judging the matters of this world, even when our witness may not be wholly accepted or completely successful.”

  • paulpriest

    Thank God the Papal Nuncio is doing the Archbishop of Westminster’s job for him…

  • Michael

    “One of our first tasks is to educate our Christian people in a new way of judging the matters of this world, even when our witness may not be wholly accepted or completely successful.”
    Hear, hear…

    But, didn’t one of our bishops recently say that the Bishops of England & Wales can only be bothered to fight battles they know they can win?

  • GildasWiseman

    Yes!  Let us hope and pray that Archbishop Antonio Mennini will inspire Archbishop Nichols and the Bishops of England and Wales to vociferously defend the Sacrament of marriage and also take a lead from the French Bishops. 
    I notice that UKIP are against the redefinition of marriage and consequent same sex “marriage”. Whereas the mainstream political parties are destroying our democracy; freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.
    John Smeaton of SPUC has eloquently expressed this fact in his writings.

  • nytor

    Indeed – I believe that they have more acceptable views on abortion too. I shall be voting UKIP today.

  • Lewispbuckingham

     can only fight battles they know they can win’
    On an ABC QA about a year ago one of the questions was Should voluntary euthanasia be made legal? Avoiding the anomaly that voluntary really includes a pact for someone else to conspire in the killing, it threw up an unsolicited response.
     The panel member, tongue in cheek, suggested that he was all in favour of euthanasia, but it must first apply to politicians, for in a long breaking in period, to test how it would work.The audience broke down laughing.
     It would be unlikely a majority of politicians would favour this approach.
     There seems to be a sort of intellectual bind in some that these debates are akin to debates about the just war thesis.
    They are not.Many of the beliefs and moral positions of the CC will never be realised in two or three generations.
    It took thousands of years for slavery to be abolished and it is still in some forms present.
    The fact that the church may not win in some legislation is beside the point of its sacred creation.
    It has a duty,short of being annihilated, of loudly and clearly defending our lives however they be attacked.
    It must speak for its members and those as yet unborn that their life is needful, sacred, precious, wanted and not to be destroyed.
     As those who want to kill and be killed gain prominence, the powerless will see the voice of reason in the stand of the church, even if soundly beaten by elected powers in the parliament of today.
    Their survivors, and those of that next generation beyond them will be able to examine the debates of today and see who defended their lives.
     They will be the winners.

  • Nat_ons

    “But we must not be afraid because we are confident that Our Lord continues to love and support his Church. Our people need us to witness to a new way of judging the situations of our world.”

    Sadly, most educated Catholics are afraid .. of witnessing an orthodox faith in Christ. The bishops very properly, for the greater part, across the world have no appetite for any such martyrdom – preferring to find an accomodation. So mere bluster, out-politicking the politicians, and rear guard fire-fighting tactics are now (as they have often been in the past) the chosen path of  least unpleasant resistence; yet, as Benedict XVI and the Nuncio demonstrate, media grandstanding is not the best way, it is not the Catholic way, it is not the Lord’s way – the hard work of actually labouring for the harvest is the only useful means by which God’s Victory is announced, experienced and handed on.

    The recent political debacle engineered by strident political action by the US bishops shows the failure of relying on princes or one’s own power.

    And the demands for instant introduction of abortion, same sex ‘marriage’, assisted suicide etc - even in Ireland – will not abate because bishops rank against them.

    What is necessary, therefore, is what has always been the orthodox Catholic and Roman path; evangelise, teach Catholic Truth, offer the service of love not power; and that applies to British ‘Catholic’ academics working in US ‘Catholic’ universaties.

  • Petertheroman

    That the problem with a lack of faith. whats not possible for man is possible for God. why dont they get christians to rise up together….instead of supperficial preaching speak with the zeal of God….we would go if only you lead us…..fire us up oh Lord may we be hot and on fire for your justice

  • xyz

    The moral demise of a nation precedes the demise of the nation. Be warned.

  • Deborah

    why are we Christians taking direction from Government. God doesn’t approve of same sexes having a sexual relationship.  This law is offensive to Our dear father in heaven and how can we be so cruel to ask him to bless it in his house.

  • Bernard

    Well said!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    UKIP is the only UK Party one could contemplate voting for Nytor, agreed. 

  • Pearlhopk

    I wasn’t aware we had an Archishop of Westminster.
    Everything is left up to Cardinal O’Brien.
    No doubt Archbishop Nichols has heard about him as he goes about the drinks and party circuit in

  • Jeff

    There is only one solution: bring back the death penalty, and then make suicide a crime punishable by death – simple!