Two Catholic bishops in Malta wrote a strong pastoral letter last week in response to a petition calling for the legalization of euthanasia on the island nation, Malta Today reports.
The bishops described euthanasia as part of a larger “throwaway culture” that cheapens human life and threatens the lives of the most vulnerable human beings in society. Their letter comes as the island nation considers a citizen-led petition to legalize euthanasia, started by the wife of Joe Magto who has ALS and wants to be euthanized, according to the report.
Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Gozo Bishop Mario Grech said people who are suffering like Magto deserve pain relief and medical care, not death.
“Every person has a right to treatment and society has the moral obligation to provide medical services in defense of this right to life,” they wrote. “Every person reserves the legal and moral right to refuse medical treatment that does not offer any hope, which involves exorbitant costs or inconvenience, or incurs severe pain and suffering. At the same time, however, every care must be provided to alleviate psychological and physical pain until the process of death takes its natural course.”
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Scicluna and Grech borrowed a phrase that Pope Francis often uses to talk about abortion and euthanasia in condemning the push, calling it evidence of a “throwaway culture.” They wrote about how society “kills unborn babies, abandons the old, forsakes people with disabilities, values people according to their potential contribution to the economy and their consumption, and is unjust to the poor.”
The push to legalize life-destroying practices like euthanasia and abortion is being felt across the globe. In the United States, four states have legalized doctor-prescribed suicide, while dozens of others are being targeted with similar legislation. In several European countries, euthanasia already is legal. Belgium is the most extreme, having legalized the euthanasia of children in 2013.
The petition in Malta to legalize euthanasia has more than 1,300 signatures so far online, according to Malta Today. However, religious groups, pro-lifers, disability rights advocates and others are pushing back against the threat and educating people about the horrendous abuses of euthanasia and the precious value of every human life.
“We must always protect life, everywhere and at every stage and must work together to improve the quality of life in every aspect,” the Malta bishops wrote. “We Christians have a special duty to cherish life because for us, human life is a gift from God, who alone is its master from the beginning to the end. No human being can therefore assume or himself the right to directly destroy the innocent life of another or to regard some people as having no value or as obstacles.”