Bishop Reflects on Physician-Assisted Suicide

By Most. Rev. Stephen J. Berg
I pray that this finds you and your loved ones safely guided by and held in the hands of Our Lord. I always look forward to the fall season, with the change of colors in the trees, the crisp weather and the approaching winter, with its particular Colorado beauty.

Especially I anticipate the various feasts of early October, including those of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (patroness of our diocese), the Guardian Angels, St. Francis of Assisi, and Our Lady of the Rosary. Every year these feasts bring new meaning to our lives as we pray and live under the intercession of a most powerful collection of angels and saints of special significance to the “little ones:” to the lost, the poor, and the childlike.

Aside from these beautiful images, I am sad to say that there is now a challenge to many of the “little ones” on this upcoming November ballot in our state. Proposition 106 seeks to legalize Physician Assisted Suicide in Colorado. This proposition is recklessly written and if passed will open the door to a host of tragedies to the vulnerable in our community. Legalizing this practice will advance the “throwaway culture” in our society, making it possible to manipulate the elderly, ill or disabled into taking their own lives. This has already been happening in Oregon, where some insurance will pay for suicide but not for extended cancer treatment.

Please understand that in our country, where there is a “right” there is also an eventual “obligation” for society to provide the means for suicide to all who request it from any doctor (according to this bill, whether pediatrician, podiatrist, throat specialist or any other doctor), and the American Medical Association is rightly alarmed at this ultimate attack on its mission of healing. In Belgium, where this legislation has passed, teenagers have been able to exercise their “rights” and secure the prescription for suicide without their parents’ consent.

Sadly, this proposition is being presented and will be misunderstood as a means of an outreach of compassion. However, if this Physician Assisted Suicide initiative passes we will face a dire future with those most vulnerable facing pressure to “give up”- the disabled, the terminally ill, those fighting addiction, the chronically depressed, and many other struggling persons.

In this Year of the Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, we are called to the mission of Christ, the face of the mercy of God. As Christians we know that we have a higher calling to our suffering brothers and sisters - to be with them in their sorrows, to find ways to alleviate their pain, and to offer them the healing power of Christ. As Christian voters we must defeat Proposition 106. I urge you to stand with conviction to explain the dire consequences to others who are misinformed, to spread the word to those who are indifferent.

Let us pray fervently to St. Therese, St. Francis, the Angels, and Our Lady, through the October month of prayer for Respect Life, that life be respected, nurtured and cherished in our world. Our prayers for the “little ones” are desperately needed and there is work yet to do. Know also my love for you and my appreciation for all the blessings you bring to our diocese.