Canadian Catholic bishops renew their opposition to euthanasia in Catholic health care facilities

Canada’s bishops have reaffirmed that they “unanimously and unequivocally oppose the performance of either euthanasia or assisted suicide (MAiD) within health organizations with a Catholic identity.”(Image by

By Paul Schratz, The B.C. Catholic

There is no place for euthanasia or assisted suicide in Catholic hospitals, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement released Nov. 30, 2023.

In a statement released the day after the British Columbia government said it would take over land beside Vancouver’s Catholic hospital for a euthanasia site, the bishops reiterated their opposition to medically-provided assisted suicide/ euthanasia in Catholic health facilities.

The bishops said they “unanimously and unequivocally oppose the performance of either euthanasia or assisted suicide (MAiD)” and that any efforts to compel Catholic facilities to perform what is known as  “Medical Assistance in Dying” would violate Catholic teaching, would “deeply betray” the identity of Catholic institutions, and would be inconsistent with “the Church’s moral teachings on the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.”

The bishops had already drawn a line in the sand at their September plenary when they stated unanimously that MAID would not be delivered at Catholic hospitals.

On Nov. 30, the Catholic bishops of Canada formalized that stance with a statement that they “unanimously and unequivocally oppose the performance of either euthanasia or assisted suicide (MAiD) within health organizations with a Catholic identity.”

Despite pressure for Catholic health-care institutions to allow euthanasia or assisted suicide, “the Catholic Church, which regards life as sacred and inviolable, remains firm in its opposition to MAiD,” said the statement.

“Euthanasia and assisted suicide (MAiD) have always been, and will always be, morally unacceptable because they are affronts to human dignity and violations of natural and divine law. Catholic healthcare affirms that every person, made in the image of God), has intrinsic value, regardless of ability or health.”

The bishops said they “commend and support the moral position taken by Catholic healthcare institutions across Canada which, in keeping with the Guidelines of the Health Ethics Guide of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada as well as the freedom of conscience and religion, do not permit either euthanasia or assisted suicide within their facilities.

Patients in Catholic health care who want euthanasia or assisted suicide “are assured of a safe and timely discharge and transfer of care.”

With the threat of medically-provided death becoming available to Canadians whose sole medical condition is mental illness, the bishops said “we cannot emphasize enough how important it is for public healthcare to invest more in mental health resources.”

“This investment is urgently needed not only because of the present mental health crisis in which needs far exceed resources, but because discouragement and despair can also result from this very scarcity of reachable, reliable, and robust support.

They also reiterated Catholic teaching on the importance of comprehensive palliative care that “not only relieves pain, but also responds to patients’ existential, psychological, and spiritual needs and those of their families and caregivers.”

The bishops pointed to Horizons of Hope, their online toolkit on the benefits of palliative care as one of several initiatives aimed at supporting the sick and the elderly.

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