The following comes from a posting on the website of the diocese of Sacramento.

On May 31, 2016, Bishop Jaime Soto issued the following statement:

Dear Friends in Christ:

On June 9, 2016 California will venture over a moral precipice with the legal implementation of euthanasia, physician-assisted-suicide. Euphemistically entitled the “End of Life Option Act” this law allows physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs for the expressed purpose of aiding a patient commit suicide.

Under the ruse of compassion, this reprehensible law fundamentally ruptures the physician-patient relationship. Californians will face a new moral menace, especially for the most vulnerable of our neighbors and friends: the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. As has been seen in other states and countries with similar laws, the option to kill one’s self with the aid of a doctor is soon followed by the encouragement to do so, and eventually by the expectation.

At this lamentable turning point in our state’s history, I urge the Catholic community and everyone of good will to refuse to participate in this inhumane practice and affirm our solidarity with the weak and the vulnerable. We should redouble our efforts to promote palliative care and commit ourselves to be caring companions of those who feel alone or abandoned as they approach the end of life. We hold in common our human dignity. We affirm this human bond when we care for one another and accompany each other, especially in the moments of need.

Rather than conforming oneself to the sway of popular distorted notions about personal freedom and autonomy, seek a better understanding of what this new law means: 1. Why physician-assisted-suicide poses such a grave threat not only to the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, but indeed to all of us; and 2. What our only loving and fitting responses should be to those brothers and sisters of ours who are suffering from terminal illnesses.

I encourage preachers and teachers to start a conversation in parishes, schools, and the home. The implementation of the new law is a “teachable moment” to speak clearly about the joyful truth of the gospel even in the anxious and confusing circumstances at the end of life.

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us pray that all will embrace what St. John Paul II called “the way of love and true mercy” especially for those who are dying. Pray that no one will seek nor encourage another’s recourse to any form of suicide, whether assisted or not. Pray that each of us may more effectively and consistently show the tender face of God’s own mercy to those suffering at the end of their lives.

As the Bishops of California summarize on the webpage, Embracing our Dying: “If those who are dying are embraced by their family and their community, they will not seek death, but will live their last days well, and then accept death when it comes.”

+Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento