Day for Life, Life Matters, News archive 2005

Celebration of the Day for Life on Sunday 2nd October 2005 ‘Cherishing the Evening of Life’

PRESS RELEASE

30 September 2005

Celebration of the Day for Life on Sunday 2nd October 2005

Cherishing the Evening of Life

The Day for Life will be celebrated in parishes throughout Ireland on
Sunday next 2nd October 2005. The theme for 2005 is ‘Cherishing the
Evening of Life’ which encompasses a tribute to the lives of older
people, and to the work of the Church with older people. It also draws
attention to the issue of euthanasia.

The annual Day for Life was called for by Pope John Paul II to encourage
a greater awareness within the Church of the crucial importance of the
Church’s teaching on the gift of life.

This year the Irish Bishops have united with the Bishops of Scotland
and England & Wales in the celebration of this day and have jointly
published a pastoral letter entitled ‘Cherishing the Evening of Life’.

In their letter the bishops say: “Those who are sick or frail and older
people deserve our particular respect. They are our brothers and sisters
in Christ. Earlier this year in his Lenten Message Pope John Paul II
asked us to “deepen the awareness of the role that older people are
called to play in society and in the Church” and in so doing to “prepare
our hearts for the loving welcome that should always be reserved for them”.

“The Pope’s message was particularly forceful, as it was written by an
elderly man showing the world every day that all life is worth living.
John Paul II reminded us with his own painful witness, that we can never
say that a person, weakened by sickness or age, is useless and is no more
than a burden to society. We are challenged to love the life of older
people with a reminder that in scripture, reaching old age is a sign of
God’s benevolence and longevity is prized as a special divine gift.”

The bishops conclude by saying: “People who are dying want to know that,
even though there is no prospect of recovery, they will not be abandoned.
It is important that the kind of care a sick person receives is not dictated
by the fears or the convenience of others.”

Ends

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)

NOTES TO EDITORS:
– The full text of ‘Cherishing the Evening of Life’ follows.
– The Day for Life 2005 is celebrated in Ireland on Sunday 2nd October.
It has already been celebrated in England and Wales on Sunday 3rd July
and in Scotland on 31 May.
– The CCO has established a special web feature at www.catholiccommunications.ie
to mark the Day for life which includes the full text of the pastoral letter,
background information, liturgy resources, a Day for Life archive and a
links section.

——————————————————————————–

Cherishing the Evening of Life
Pastoral Letter from the
Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Day for Life
2 October 2005

Those who are sick or frail and older people deserve our particular respect.
They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Earlier this year in his Lenten
Message Pope John Paul II asked us to “deepen the awareness of the role that
older people are called to play in society and in the Church” and in so doing
to “prepare our hearts for the loving welcome that should always be reserved
for them”.

The Pope’s message was particularly forceful, as it was written by an elderly
man showing the world every day that all life is worth living. John Paul II
reminded us with his own painful witness, that we can never say that a person,
weakened by sickness or age, is useless and is no more than a burden to
society. We are challenged to love the life of older people with a reminder
that in scripture, reaching old age is a sign of God’s benevolence and
longevity is prized as a special divine gift.

“Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today
a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number
of elderly. This demands a more specific attention to the world of so-called
“old” age, in order to help its members to live their full potential by placing
them at the service of the entire community. It is necessary to raise the
awareness in public opinion that older people represent a resource to be
valued.”
Pope John Paul II

When a decision is taken to terminate the life of a person who is sick or
elderly, on the grounds that his or her life is no longer worth living, this
is euthanasia.

Whether it is by doing something, or by doing nothing when something should
be done; be it with or without the consent of the person who is killed,
euthanasia comes down to the same thing in moral terms. It is the deliberate
killing of a human being, and it is contrary to the law of God. God is the
giver of life, and he alone has the right to decide when a life should end.

“Human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages.
The Commandment, “You shall not kill!”, always requires respecting and
promoting human life, from its beginning to its natural end. It is a
command that applies even in the presence of illness and when physical
weakness reduces the person’s ability to be self-reliant.”
Pope John Paul II

Must we, in the case of terminal illness, do everything and anything possible
to stay alive, despite the condition we may be in? The answer to this is
clearly “No”.  There is no civil or religious law which says that we must
stay alive at any cost.  What is never permitted, however, is any act or
omission which is intended to cause death in order to free a person from
suffering.

According to the doctrine of ‘double effect’, it is permissible to alleviate
pain by administering drugs like morphine which it is foreseen may shorten
life (the intention being to ease distress).  To give an overdose or
injection with the direct intention of terminating a patient’s life
however is morally indefensible.

The right to be able to choose to die can too easily become a duty to die.
The philosophical advocates of euthanasia have often made this clear.

Once society allows voluntary euthanasia we will have set foot on a slippery
slope that will lead us inevitably to non-voluntary euthanasia.

People who are dying want to know that, even though there is no prospect of
recovery, they will not be abandoned. It is important that the kind of care
a sick person receives is not dictated by the fears or the convenience of
others.

We cherish the ‘Evening of Life’ as we pray:

May He support us all the day long,
till the shades lengthen and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of
life is over and our work is done!
Then in His Mercy may He give us a safe lodging
and a holy rest and peace at the last.

Cardinal Newman

A ‘Day for Life’ 2005 is celebrated in Scotland on 31 May, in England and
Wales on 3 July and in Ireland on 2 October.
RESOURCES
www.catholiccommunications.ie/dayforlife
Resources for Day for Life from the
Catholic Communications Office including
Liturgy and Reading Resources.

www.dayforlife.org
Portal website for the ‘Day for Life’ 2005 celebrations in
The Bishops’ Conferences of England & Wales, Ireland
and Scotland.

www.catholichealthcare.ie
Catholic Healthcare Commission

www.healthcare-ethics.ie
Website of the Irish Bishops’ Committee for Bioethics

www.linacre.org
A research institute specialising in bioethics

www.thesocialagenda.org
Material on euthanasia published by the
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

www.vatican.va
Official web site of the Holy See

PUBLICATIONS
Living with Dying
Irish Bishops’ Conference Pastoral to mark the Day for Life 2002
www.healthcare-ethics.ie

End of Life Care: Ethical and Pastoral Issues
Irish Bishops’ Committee for Bioethics
www.healthcare-ethics.ie

Cherishing Life
Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
www.catholic-ew.org.uk/cherishinglife

Euthanasia, Clinical Practice and the Law
The Linacre Centre, London
admin@linacre.org

PRAYER FOR LIFE
O Mary, bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life.
Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love to the people of our time.
Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives and the courage to
bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilisation of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.

Evangelium Vitae No: 105

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