OTTAWA, Ontario — The Catholic Church has joined with religious leaders from all faiths and creeds across the country to denounce the federal government’s plan to make it easier to get medically assisted suicide in Canada.

“We, the undersigned, remain inalterably opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide, the intentional killing of human beings, euphemistically being called ‘Medical Assistance In Dying,’ (MAID) but which is more accurately, and tragically, nothing less than murder,” said the open letter, released Oct. 14.

“It perplexes our collective minds that we have come so far as a society yet, at the same time, have so seriously regressed in the manner that we treat the weak, the ill and the marginalized,” it said.

The open letter to Canadians was signed and endorsed by more than 50 religious leaders in Canada, including Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg, Manitoba, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is part of a national effort by opponents of Canada’s medical assistance in dying system to try to stop the federal government from expanding who qualifies for legally sanctioned suicide.

Public opinion polls have consistently shown Canadians support having access to legal medically induced suicide. The federal government has proposed Bill C-7, which proposes a two-tier system for those whose death is reasonably foreseeable and those whose death is not.

Several groups, including the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, hope to influence legislators as the proposed changes to the legislation are debated in the House of Commons.

Canadian Physicians for Life is calling on its members to endorse a statement that says: “Bill C-7 would allow those who are not dying to end their lives by a lethal injection at the hands of a doctor or nurse practitioner. Shockingly, most of the safeguards that Parliament deemed necessary in 2016 to protect the lives of vulnerable individuals from a wrongful death are being removed.”

According to the open letter by faith leaders, “Palliative care is a viable and life affirming alternative, which does not discriminate against any group and which gives expression to the ethics of caring and inclusion, hallmarks of Canadian values.”

“Palliative care addresses pain in a loving and caring environment, wherein people go out of their way to offer comfort and solace. It makes everyone into a better person,” the letter said.

Dryden is Ottawa correspondent for Canadian Catholic News.