New Zealand bishops offer pastoral guidance on euthanasia law

The Catholic Bishops of New Zealand have prepared guidelines for medical professionals, chaplains and priests to assist them in their pastoral work with those who decide to die under the country’s law of choice. end of life, which comes into effect on November 7.

As Church Opposes Willful Taking Of Human Life, It Cannot Deny People Who Choose “Physician-Assisted Dying” Under New Law, Bishop Stephen Lowe of Hamilton Says , vice-president of the New Zealand Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Church must help people see the questions and choices they face through a Christian lens, Bishop Lowe said in a statement released by the bishops’ conference on Oct. 28.

“People often find themselves in complex places. In these times, the Church is trying to guide people the best they can, but people are making their own choices, ”he said.

“Often as a Church we find ourselves caring for people facing the consequences of such choices. Our pastoral practice is always called to be a reflection of our God, who does not abandon his people.”

The bishops have prepared a pastoral declaration to accompany the guidelines for those caring for the dying. The Te Kupenga-Catholic Leadership Institute is planning workshops on working with the law.

No priest, chaplain, pastoral worker, health worker or caregiver should ever feel pressured to do or say something that goes against their own conscience.

Catholic leaders opposed a referendum on the law in the country’s 2020 general election. The referendum was adopted with 65.9% of voters approving the measure.

The guidelines, titled “Ministers of Consolation and Hope,” focus on accompanying the dying. The five-page document describes the ministry of accompaniment as a commitment and a ministry of hope and support.

He also said that spiritual accompaniment with a person considering euthanasia or assisted dying is “a partnership of good intention”, calling on ministers and caregivers to make available resources for care, prayer and support. sacraments.

Accompaniment consists of working with family members, called whanau whakapono in Maori and tribal cultures. “Whanau and other relatives may have different opinions on physician-assisted dying. Any division or tension within the family should be listened to and treated with great sensitivity,” the guidelines advise.

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In addition, the directives clearly explain that the accompaniment is “always voluntary and respectful of conscience”.

“No priest, chaplain, pastoral worker, health worker, or caregiver should ever feel pressured to do or say anything that is against their own conscience. Any cooperation in the act of facilitating or facilitating administering assisted dying should be ruled out in all cases, “says the guidelines.

Euthanasia will not be offered in Catholic nursing homes or hospices, Bishop Lowe said.

“However, it will become available in a number of hospitals and other public health care facilities across the country. We need not deny the objective harm of euthanasia to accompany, with consolation and hope, those who might feel drawn or pushed towards this type of death, ”the bishop said in his statement.

“The legal availability of euthanasia in New Zealand does not change Catholic beliefs about the practice,” his statement continued. “At the same time, our faith tells us that there is no place or situation, no matter how uncomfortable, where our faith cannot be expressed, or the grace of God encountered.”

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