The Archbishop of Melbourne has condemned the legalisation of euthanasia in his State and has spoken out in defence of conscience, while also calling on the Government to improve access to palliative care.
Archbishop Denis Hart, who did not comment last week after the passage of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in the upper house, issued a statement this afternoon after the bill was carried in the Legislative Assembly.
The archbishop said he was grateful to the many doctors, nurses, carers, lawyers and politicians who had actively campaigned against the move.
“Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia expose the most vulnerable in our society and undermine centuries of care and clinical practice,” Archbishop Hart said.
“Experience in other countries clearly demonstrates that Victoria is now at the beginning of a dangerous pathway where more and more people’s lives will be placed in jeopardy …
“At this critical time in the history of the State of Victoria, I pray for a renewed commitment of all Victorians to the sick, oppressed, marginalised and vulnerable of our society.”
He said that Catholic health entities would continue to care for those facing death, and would always strive “to provide the best care to them and their loved ones”.
“Assisted suicide and euthanasia are not part of their practice and are incompatible with the provision of quality palliative care …
“The Archdiocese will strongly advocate that the Victorian Government honours its promise of increased palliative care, particularly in regional areas. At the same time, I exhort the Government to substantially increase the funding for palliative care so that all Victorians requiring this care are aware of its availability and have access when the need arises.
“I remind all people, health professionals and patients alike, that no one should ever be compelled to act against their conscience – we will continue to strongly assert that right.”