Lord, how good it is for us to be here -- Matthew 17

Browsing The Corner Office

Sunday, February 5. 2017

Feb 2, 2017

Dear friends, 

Make Your Voice Heard 

Death with dignity means proper care, not a lethal drug dose.  This weekend is the annual Diocese of Rochester Public Policy Weekend and the issue being addressed is Doctor-Assisted Suicide.  Because of scheduling conflicts here at Transfiguration we will address the issue from the pulpit, next weekend and there will be appropriate petition available for signing.

Citing material from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) which states advocates of assisted suicide claim it is a private decision, an exercise in personal autonomy that does not affect others.  But there is a wellstudied "social contagion" aspect to the behavior that can't be ignored.

A recent study, which controlled for other factors that could account for the rise, showed that the permissive assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington have caused at least a 6% rise in overall suicide rates in those states.  Additional data, although limited, enhances this distressing picture. After suicide rates had declined in Oregon in the 1990s, they rose dramatically there between 2000 and 2010—the years following the legalization of assisted suicide in 1997.  By 2012, suicide rates in Oregon were 42% higher than the national average

We know that suicide is among the health-related behaviors that tend to spread from person to person. When a person ends his or her life, it can affect the choices of that person's friends, as well as the choices of people at least three degrees of separation away: the friends of his or her friends' friends.  Additionally, publicized cases of suicide lead to clusters of copycat cases—known in social science as the Werther Effect.  A 2003 Swiss study, for example, showed evidence of suicide contagion following media reports of doctor-assisted suicide. No one is an island.

Legalizing doctor-assisted suicide wrongly communicates that some lives are not worth living; the law itself is a teacher.  Our laws shape cultural attitudes toward certain behaviors and influence social norms. Laws permitting assisted suicide communicate the message that, under especially difficult circumstances, some lives are not worth living.  This tragically false message will be heard not only by those with a terminal illness, but by any person struggling with the temptation to end his or her life.  (Some of this material is from the USCCB, 2016 position paper.)

“The human person is always precious, even if marked by illness or old age.” -Pope Francis

On Public Policy Weekend we will be gathering signatures as part of our Diocesan-wide Public Policy Weekend effort to stop the legalization of physician assisted suicide in our state. The petition you will be asked to sign reads:  To New York State Governor Cuomo/New York State Senator/New York State Assembly Member: I strongly oppose any legislation to legalize assisted suicide in New York State. Allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose for patients to end their lives devalues human life. There is also significant potential for abuse. I urge you to focus instead on improving palliative care, to ensure compassionate, comprehensive care and pain management for those who are terminally ill. We need to accompany rather than abandon them.

For further study of this issue I refer you to the following USCCB website entitled:

Every Suicide is Tragic. http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/2016/every-suicide-is-tragic.cfm

Let us continue to pray for peace and for the end of terrorism in our world!

In peace and  courage,


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