While the notion of 'death with dignity' may seem appealing on the surface, the push to legalize assisted suicide in Colorado is based on a lie that yields devastating consequences, said Bishop James Conley. “(I)t is a battle where life hangs in the very balance. The culture of death is the work of dark demonic forces that whisper in people’s ears, 'life has no meaning, no value, no dignity',” he said. Bishop Conley heads the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. From 2008-2012, he served as auxiliary bishop in Denver, Colorado. The bishop delivered the homily at the Beacon of Hope Gala Mass in Denver, Colorado on Jan. 31. He spoke about the recent “Colorado Death with Dignity Act” that was introduced to the state’s House of Representatives earlier in the week, pointing to the dangers of promoting physician assisted suicide and the threat it brings to human life in general. This bill, HB 1135, would allow physicians to prescribe deadly pharmaceuticals to terminally ill patients in order to end their lives. On Jan. 30, the “Colorado Death with Dignity Act” was fast tracked and will be heard in committee on Feb. 6, less than two weeks after its introduction to the House. California is also considering an assisted suicide bill. Similar measures have already been legalized in Oregon, Montana, Washington, New Jersey, and Vermont. “Assisted suicide is yet another lie of the culture of death. The culture of death believes that life is only meaningful when life is productive, and pleasurable, and painless,” Bishop Conley stated, stressing that HB 1135 would drastically threaten the elderly, disabled, and poor. “Real dignity is the consequence of being made in the image of God. Dignity is part of the gift of God’s divine love. Dying with dignity means knowing the meaning of life, even in the face of death — realizing that we’re made to know, love and serve God,” he went on to say. Bishop Conley cautioned that legalizing assisted suicide could soon lead to pressure on society’s most vulnerable members to kill themselves. “One wonders how long it might be before the disabled or chronically ill, or the poor and elderly are encouraged to 'die with dignity,' rather than living as a 'burden' to their families and communities. One wonders how long those who receive Medicaid or Medicare might be encouraged to think of the 'common good,' and choose death over life,” he questioned. “Today, the elderly, disabled, and poor face real threats from the culture of death. The Gospel of Life proclaims the dignity of all human life, from conception to natural death, and every moment in between,” the bishop noted, urging the faithful to defend dignity with the authority of Christ in the Gospel. “We’re called to be prophets,” Bishop Conley stated, saying that the ill, elderly, disabled and poor need a prophetic witness to rebuke the culture of death. “Please fight the onslaught of the culture of death — abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia,” he said. “And please, continue to give witness to the light and hope and freedom and joy of the Gospel of Life, proclaimed by Our Lord, Jesus Christ.” The Archdiocese of Denver is offering more information on physician assisted suicide, and the Colorado Catholic Conference has information on how to contact state lawmakers about the bill.
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