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Response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision removing legal prohibitions on euthanasia & assisted suicide (6 February 2015) – from Bishop Charlie Masters
7 February 2015
My dear brothers and sisters,
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a deeply disappointing decision striking down Canada’s existing Criminal Code prohibition on euthanasia and assisted suicide, declaring these to be constitutional rights. The unanimous decision gave Parliament 12 months to legislate restrictions if it so chooses.
As the issue has been presented by media in more palatable terms and with compelling personal accounts, public opinion has changed in recent years. So while the decision will be widely applauded, the rationale for Canada’s historic legal prohibition of euthanasia and assisted suicide is largely ignored.
Like previous legal decisions that have undercut the Judeo-Christian moral foundation of our society, this decision favours the few who have politically powerful advocates and whose stories have been given high profile in the media; but it ignores the harm that may come to the many who are politically weak, physically vulnerable, and have few if any advocates.
In anticipation of this decision, Father Raymond de Souza wrote in the National Post, “that to embrace euthanasia and suicide as constitutional rights involved three revolutions in jurisprudence: i) abandoning the legal principle that every life is always a good to be protected, ii) embracing the idea that suicide is a social good, and iii) removing the particular obligation of the law to protect the weak and vulnerable.”
Citing the experience of Belgium where euthanasia and assisted suicide were legalized in 2002 and where the safeguards have rapidly eroded and the categories of those eligible have grown to the point that even children can now be euthanized, Father de Souza, expects that soon “we will hear positive reviews from the telegenic advocates of expanding the number of suicides and people euthanized in Canada. They will have compelling stories to tell. We will not hear from those who have no advocates — the isolated elderly, alone with no one to speak for them, judged to be burdensome to our health system. The disabled who will now wonder if their doctors are coming with counsels of death do not have fashionable advocates. The truly weak and vulnerable, the exploited and abandoned, do not hold press conferences. The Charter becomes a tool of the powerful against the weak, much like medicine will increasingly become in the age of euthanasia and suicide.”
Rather than give in to despair however, we Christians have constructive options. We can pray and we can act.
In fact, we ought to pray and act because, in the Bible, we know that Jesus saw death not as a friend to be embraced when there is great pain, but rather as an enemy to be destroyed. The One who came to conquer death said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (ESV)
How then should we pray?
- Pray that our elected leaders will carefully craft legislation imposing stringent limits on euthanasia and assisted suicide and that these will be scrupulously monitored and enforced. The “ball” is now in Parliament’s court; if Parliament fails to act, the result could be one of the most unrestricted euthanasia regimes in the world.
- Pray for our physicians and their governing bodies. Pray that no physician or other healthcare worker would ever be required to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide against his or her conscience.
- Pray for the vulnerable – the elderly, the socially isolated, the depressed, the ill – that they would have loving advocates to encourage, care for, and protect them.
How can we act?
- Write to parliamentarians encouraging them to put in place stringent laws governing euthanasia and assisted suicide, laws which will provide maximum protection for the vulnerable, and absolute protection for medical professionals whose conscience will not permit them to be associated in any way with euthanasia or assisted suicide.
- Work to ensure that high quality, compassionate palliative care is available so those suffering terminal illness will be well cared for and able to live out their natural lifespan with dignity and minimal pain.
- Become involved as individuals and as churches in caring for and advocating for the vulnerable, the elderly, the lonely, the disabled, and the physically and mentally ill. By becoming engaged in their lives, we can help people who otherwise might be attracted to death, choose life instead.
- Be bearers of the Good News. People need to know that they are not accidents of evolution, but were created by an infinitely wise, loving God who treasures them, and has given them inherent dignity and immeasurable value. They desperately need to be introduced to our Saviour who offers them unconditional love, forgiveness and spiritual wholeness. And they need to know that we too care for them and will walk with them.
- Become actively involved in Anglicans for Life Canada or Anglicans for Life (US). Physicians can connect with Canadian Physicians for Life.
Because He lives and death is defeated,
Bishop Charlie Masters
For a pdf of this letter, see: Response to Supreme Court euthanasia decision – Bp Charlie -7 Feb 2015
16 December 2014
My dear brothers and sisters,
As Christmas 2014 draws close at hand, I send you and all you love warm Christmas greetings and blessings from Bishop Stephen and Nona, Bishop Trevor and Dede, Bishop Don and Trudy, Bishop Malcolm and Mary Lou, Bishop Ron and Jan, as well as from my wife Judy and me. It is our prayer that you would experience, more and more, the joy and peace that “the good news of great joy which is for all people” brings because Christ the Savior has been born in Bethlehem for us.
I confess I have never previously thought of Romans 4 as a particularly “Christmasy” passage, or even an Advent passage, but truly Romans 4:20 and 21 certainly does pertain to all the events around Jesus’ birth.
Speaking of Abraham, it says: “…no distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. ”
The key words are the “promise of God”. What made Abraham the father of faith, is that, in the face of lots of obvious difficulties and evident impossibilities, he remained convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
So it was that Abraham and Sarah gave birth to a son in their old age.
And all the promises concerning the coming King and his birth happened just as God had promised.
He is able to do what he has promised.
In Isaiah 7:14, God promised, “therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shalt call his name Immanuel.” And He caused the Virgin Mary to conceive and give birth to a son because God is able to do what he had promised.
So it was that when the Magi from the East came to Jerusalem and asked “where is he who has been born King of the Jews?,” those who knew the promises of God recorded in Micah 5:2 said “in Bethlehem of Judea, for so it was written by the prophet: And “you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”
And how did God do this such that Joseph and Mary, who lived far in the north in Nazareth, would be moved all the way to Bethlehem in the south? Luke 2 tells us: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered… [then] all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.” (Luke 2:1, 3-6 ESV)
The God who is able to do what he has promised used a tax decreed by Augustus Caesar of the whole known world, of all things, to move Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem to fulfill what he had promised centuries earlier.
He is able.
And so dear friends, it is a wise person who heeds the message of the Angels and responds in personal faith to our promise-keeping God. His promise of “good news of great joy to all people” holds true because he who promised is true and he is able.
When the shepherds rushed to Bethlehem to see the thing that the angels had spoken of, no surprise, they found him and everything exactly as the angels spoke because the God who sent the Angels with this message is true, faithful and able.
Whatever may lie before us as individuals and congregations, as families and as a diocese we can know that the God who sent Jesus in fulfillment of all his promises and will return as he has promised is well able to care for us. He will lead us and cause us to bear fruit for his kingdom, more and more, and do all he promised. He is able.
Dear friends, even when our path is difficult and our world seems dark, we can rejoice because our confidence – and our joy – is firmly anchored in our promising-keeping God. So rejoice, and again I say rejoice!
Every blessing to you and all you love this Christmas and throughout the coming year as we await and prepare for his coming!
The Right Rev Charlie Masters
Canon Tom Carman, once again, has prepared liturgical calendars for the coming year. These are posted on the ANiC website here: www.anglicannetwork.ca/liturgical_calendar.htm
So far Tom+ has completed two versions: one based on the BCP (1962) tradition, and a second one based on Common Worship (Church of England).
These can be downloaded as pdfs.
A number of ANiC clergy and churches have blogs to which they post well-written, thought-provoking articles. When we see a post that would be of benefit to a larger audience, we’ll repost here.
If your church or pastor has a blog that you think we should follow, please let Marilyn know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In his Charge at synod, our diocesan Bishop Charlie Masters focused on the five ministry priorities that he wants to see mark ANiC Churches. He also named those who will be championing each priority area and helping us make these a transformational reality in our congregations.
The priority champions are:
1. Bold witnesses – Every member of every ANiC church will personally have responded to Christ, as well as know how to share the gospel and invite others to come to Christ.
⇒The Rev Ray David Glenn – rector, St George’s, Burlington, ON
2. Biblically grounded – Every church of ANiC will be known for its strengths in the Bible and expository preaching. Parishioners are able to handle accurately the Word of Truth.
⇒ Canon George Sinclair – rector, Messiah, Ottawa, ON (and Principal of Ryle Theological College – formerly Ottawa Theological College)
3. Loving children – Every church in ANiC will have a vital ministry to children and youth, leading them to Christ and helping them grow as disciples of Jesus.
⇒ Jeremy & Kimberley Graham – Children & Family Ministries, St John’s Vancouver (Vancouver, BC)
4. On mission – We each are intentionally and actively engaging in our communities, nations and world, focused on showing and sharing the love of God and fulfilling the Great Commission.
⇒ Claus Lenk – Layman, Christ The King, Toronto, ON (and Executive Director, Anglican Relief & Development Fund Canada)
5. Planting & growing churches – Every congregation is focused on planting another congregation out of their church family. We are working to plant a church in every major community across Canada.
⇒ The Rev Alastair Sterne – rector, St Peter’s Fireside, Vancouver, BC
You can hear Bishop Charlie’s 55 minute Charge by selecting the link on the synod audio page. Also from this page, you can listen to the 5 priority leaders each talk briefly about the ministry area they will be championing. Three of the priority leaders also used PowerPoint presentations with their talk, which can be accessed from the synod presentations and speeches page – where Bishop Charlie’s Charge is also available as a pdf.
These photos of the priority leaders presenting at synod are courtesy of Marty Fraser+.
Artist Ann Balch (Moncton, NB) created two paintings which were gifts to Bishop Don Harvey – both exquisite. The magnificent portrait (measuring 27 1/2″ x 43 1/2″) was commissioned by ANiC, but the artist magnanimously did the work pro bono. The work will initially hang in the ANiC office, but eventually move to the cathedral, when we have one!
The second painting – a transparent watercolour with acrylic archival varnish – is of Bishop Don’s hands holding the bread of the Eucharist over an intricately detailed challis.
The day started, as they all do, with 7am Morning Prayer. Then our Bible teacher, the Rev Keith Ganzer, delivered the last of his series of sermons on the theme of synod “Now a people: a Bible people, a Gospel people, a Global people”. Friday’s sermon was on the last portion: “A Global people”. (Keith’s sermon series was a highlight of synod; providing much to mediate on.)
Keith+ has been teaching on the Kingdom of God, starting from the passages, Luke 24:45-48 and 1 Peter 2:10, then drawing extensively on the context of the preceding passages in Luke and even more from the Old Testament passages which are alluded to in Luke. The result was a rich feast of Bible teaching which we need to listen to again and again to fully absorb these truths and their implications for our lives.
Keith showed how God is acting through out human history to demonstrate His absolute sovereignty (He is the King of the Kingdom) and His chosen people (who are the people of the Kingdom). In the midst of rehearsing the ways He is Israel’s King and establishing the terms of the covenant, in Exodus 19, God tells Israel that their purpose is to be a kingdom of priests, mediating the presence of God to the world by being a holy nation.
Although Israel fails, God’s promised Messiah, succeeds. “Without the cross, the kingdom would be empty.” Jesus’ death for our sins, was necessary so the kingdom reality can invade us, changing our hearts of stone by the power of the Holy Spirit so we can live in obedience to our King. This makes us a Kingdom of priests who are to embody the Kingdom of God, live in Covenant obedience to the King, and mediate God to the world. Why do we proclaim the Kingship of God to the nations? To bring about the fullness of His Kingdom so the King will return
” But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)“And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:2-4 ESV)
Following the Bible teaching, Archbishop Greg and Sylvia Venables came to the mic to say their farewells, ask for prayer and exhort us to remain faithful. (And of course, synod, in turn, expressed heartfelt appreciation for them and the role they’ve played making ANiC what it is.)
Motions (which will be posted to the website synod page as soon as possible) were passed to:
- officially remove “moderator” from our diocesan bishop’s title. (This was not easily done, as some expressed concern that the term was needed to denote ANiC’s “special” role as the largest Canadian diocese in ACNA; others rejected the concept that ANiC was “special”, felt that titles could be easily changed by synod as circumstances required, and/or thought there were better ways of addressing the objectives of those who spoke in favour of keeping the term. In the end it passed decisively, influenced in part by the perception that our new diocesan seemed to prefer the simplified title.) The constitutions and canons will be appropriately updated to reflect this change in title.
- the nominations for synod council – new and standing for re-election – were approved unopposed.
- a motion passed unanimously which strengthened and made “actionable” ANiC’s declared pro-life support
- a motion supporting the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the GAFCon movement passed unanimously
The financial statements from 2013-14 and a budget for 2014-15 were approved. The main news was that we were able to eliminate the deficit this year – by the skin of our teeth. However ANiC’s finances remain very tight and our cash flow is precarious. We are indebted to Good Samaritan (St John’s, NL) which lent ANiC $100,000 to provide some financial “cushion”. We have been able to draw from this fund this past year when our cash-flow dipped.
Archdeacon Ron Corcoran reported on the Time to Build campaign. He noted that tithes only cover about 75% of ANiC’s budget so giving from individuals is critically important – and will continue to be so – if ANiC is to stay in the black.
Before proroguing synod (a bit after noon), Bishop Charlie announced his hope that synod 2015 will be in Vancouver. Then everyone had to rush off to catch flights or drive home. [Which is why this posting is late. Sorry! Also, apologies for the lack of photos from November 7; the camera was tired! 🙂 ]