bishop tim harris
bishop tim harris

Bishop takes aim at euthanasia

NORTH Queensland's most senior Catholic figure has dedicated his weekend Mass address to advocate against euthanasia.

Bishop Tim Harris joined all Townsville Diocesan parishes and others across Queensland to outline the church's firm position that the introduction of voluntary assisted dying laws would be against Catholic beliefs.

Bishop Harris said it was an important time to have a conversation on the "grim" topic following the Queensland Government's committee hearings, which could result in new laws being presented to parliament early next year.

"I'm not suggesting any evil intent on people with a different view to me, good people are believing that voluntary assisted (dying) is the way to go and I respect their views but I've also got to be in there and say there is another way and challenge it, just as they'll be challenging me," Bishop Harris said.


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"The church wants to emphasise that we are created in the image and light of God and because of that it puts us right up there at the top in terms of God's creations.

"Our bodies are the temple of God and his holy spirit and you don't muck around with that, you respect it to the very end."

Bishop Harris likened voluntary assisted dying to the Nazi Germany era and said it would diminish the value of life.

"It reminds me of Nazi Germany, these are some of the things that people did because if someone was not 100 per cent, crippled, if they had something wrong with them, if they were aged or not of use to society any more the state then would select certain people and say we'll experiment on you or we'll kill you because you're not worth anything," he said.

"I believe to assist someone to die in an intentional manner is clearly intentional killing and the church does not believe in intentional killing." Instead, Bishop Harris said there should be more attention on improving palliative care services.

"A state-sanctioned voluntary assisted suicide can have all the safeguards it likes but even then things can go wrong, the best safeguard is not to do it," he said.

Dying With Dignity Queensland committee member and Townsville resident Marj Lawrence has been advocating for euthanasia to be legalised for more than 20 years.

Mrs Lawrence nursed her husband before his death when he was bedridden for 18 months and faded away into a "skeleton".

She said the church was out of touch by suggesting palliative care was the only option and was taking away people's end of life choices.

"Palliative care already allows people to be almost drugged on demand to try and overcome the pain but there are some conditions where that pain just cannot be resolved," Mrs Lawrence said.

"Often they slip into a coma because they are so drugged up and end up dying of other factors like starvation and thirst, I don't know how palliative care can be improved beyond that.

"I just feel the church is being very cruel and being sadistic by insisting people suffer to the very end."