SANTA FE, Argentina – Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia, said that the possible approval of the legalization of euthanasia, currently being discussed in the Spanish senate, would be a “major and historical defeat for the whole of Spain.”
“Defeat also of humanity, of man himself, due to the approval of the euthanasia law, assisted suicide, and the rejection of other proposals on palliative care that [would have] improved the current legislation,” he said.
Spanish law currently outlaws any form of assisted suicide, and medical personnel face 10 years in jail if convicted of the crime.
The Socialists have tried to pass legislation legalizing euthanasia in the past, but it always failed for reaching the senate. The law is opposed by the opposition center-right People’s Party.
The People’s Party has proposed reforming the laws on palliative care for those facing the end stages of life, which has been rejected by the ruling party.
Cañizares’s latest comments were in a letter published in the website of the Archdiocese of Valencia on Sept. 13.
He described the bill being discussed as “monstrous” and an “injustice.”
Addressing parliamentarians and government officials, Cañizares told them that they’re called to defend and protect the common good, based on the fundamental rights and duties of the society they represent. The first of these rights, he said, “is that of life.”
Despite this vocation, the cardinal said, officials have become “enemies, who are opposed to society, willing to defeat the society they represent and are called to protect, by advocating by a bill that spreads and enlarges the culture of death.”
Noting that the discussing of this bill takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affects the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, Cañizares questioned the “credibility” of civil authorities in the face of the current health crisis.
“With what moral authority can they address the people and ask us what is asked of us?” he asked. “Do politicians not see the request for people to go into lockdown or follow health and safety recommendations, while debating assisted suicide, as a sign of contradiction?”
Cañizares also writes that he’s not trying to “interfere in politics,” but to fulfill his responsibility as a bishop and as a citizen to not “remain silent.”
Euthanasia, he said, would be a historical defeat not only for the government but also for the nation.
Last week, the Spanish prelate also spoke about the euthanasia law as he was opening the school year of the School of Theology of the University of Valencia.
During his remarks Sept. 11, he was also critical of the handling the Spanish government made of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has over 600,000 positive cases, with 30,000 deaths attributed to the new coronavirus. After months of a plateau in numbers, the country is currently facing a “second wave.”
Cañizares noted that in the the midst of a pandemic, the Spanish parliament “seems to want to implement the culture of death.”
On Monday, the bishops conference as a body released a statement saying that there are no infirm people who are “un-careable,” even if they have incurable illnesses.
The discussion of the euthanasia bill, the bishops argued, is “bad news, as human life is not a property that can be disposed of by anyone.”
In their statement, the bishops argue that a society, when faced with the impossibility of eliminating the suffering of people, cannot propose they “leave the scene of life,” and is instead called to accompany them and alleviate their suffering.
“The proposal of a law that puts in the hands of others, especially doctors, the power to take a life of a sick person is not comprehensible,” the bishops said, calling instead for the respect of the dignity of every human being, which is denied by the proposed law in the name of a “presumed dignified life.”
Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma