Doctor prescribes ‘prayer’ for Carey
LORD Carey’s support of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, which is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on Friday 18 July, is probably the rational first stance the man has ever taken, and he is to be commended for it.
But Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship (above), insists that the former Archbishop of Canterbury is desperately wrong:
Carey’s case for legalising assisted suicide is a counsel of despair devoid of Christian faith and hope. I still cannot believe he wrote it. He will disappoint many people, but will also awaken deep concern for him personally in many others.
Carey is a good man who has done a lot of good. But right now I think he actually needs our prayers.
“Good” is hardly a word I would use to describe a man who, having been branded a “bigot” over his opposition to gay marriage, likened criticism of Christian bigotry to the Nazi persecution of Jews.
Saunders points out on his blog:
The Church of England’s position on the matter is (refreshingly) unequivocal:
The Church of England cannot support Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill… Patient safety, protection of the vulnerable and respect for the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship are central to the Church of England’s concerns about any proposal to change the law. Our position on the current Bill before parliament is also consistent with the approach taken by the Archbishops’ Council, House of Bishops and with successive resolutions of the General Synod.
In response to Carey, the current Archbishop, Justin Welby, has said today that legalising “assisted dying” would be “dangerous, abusive and mistaken.
Abuse, coercion and intimidation can be slow instruments in the hands of the unscrupulous, creating pressure on vulnerable people who are encouraged to ‘do the decent thing’.
Even where such pressure is not overt, the very presence of a law that permits assisted suicide on the terms proposed by Lord Falconer is bound to lead to sensitive individuals feeling that they ought to stop ‘being a burden to others’.
What sort of society would we be creating if we were to allow this sword of Damocles to hang over the head of every vulnerable, terminally-ill person in the country?
Lord Carey also previously held to the church’s official position but for some reason, which remains a mystery to me even after reading his article today in the Daily Mail, he has now changed his view. I would have to say that I found his article quite unconvincing …
What I find most astounding about Carey’s article is the almost complete lack of any theological framework for his argument. There is a vague reference to Christian principles of “open-hearted benevolence” and “compassion” and one mention (above) of Jesus.
But there is no discernible Christian world view underpinning what he says. Nothing of the fact that God made us and owns us; nothing of biblical morality or the sixth commandment; no doctrine of the Fall; little insight into the depths of human depravity and the need for strong laws to deter exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people; nothing of the cross or the resurrection; no hope beyond death; nothing of courage and perseverance in the face of suffering; no recognition of the need to make one’s peace with God and others before death; no real drive to make things better for dying patients and no real empathy with the feelings of vulnerable disabled and elderly people who fear a law like Falconer’s and will be campaigning in force outside parliament next Friday.
Carey has instead produced a piece that is high on emotion but weak on argument that capitulates to the spirit of the age; that enthrones personal autonomy above public safety; that sees no meaning or purpose in suffering; that appears profoundly naïve about the abuse of elderly and disabled people; that looks forward to no future beyond the grave and that could have been written by a member of the National Secular Society, British Humanist Association or Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
Oh, do keep up, Saunders. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society no longer exists. It changed its name to Dignity in Dying EIGHT years ago. And while you were reeling off names, you could also have mentioned the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (SOARS).