Doctor prescribes ‘prayer’ for Carey

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.

Lord Carey (Photo: David Bebber/The Times

Lord Carey (Photo: David Bebber/The Times

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?

Saunders added:

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).

12 responses to “Doctor prescribes ‘prayer’ for Carey”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    We had one of our dogs castrated yesterday. Thank goodness there’s no such thing as the Catholic Veterinary Association as they may well have declined to perform the op.

    Joking aside, I find the fact that there is even such a thing as the ‘Christian Medical Fellowship’ to be profoundly disturbing. At what point do the actions of its members become guided by faith rather than medical norms? (We’ve discussed plenty such cases here in the past – most recently that of Savita Halappanavar who died in Ireland after doctors refused to perform an abortion that may have saved her life – in which faith has superseded proper procedure.)

    Even if there is the slightest possibility that faith might get in the way of appropriate patient care then the membership list of this association should be made widely available to the public who would then have the right to choose another physician.

  2. Broga says:

    “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’.”

    This is from Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and heading the organisation that is prepared to pursue unsuspecting people into bankruptcy by using the infamous medieval]] chancel tax. If you are unlucky enough, regardless of your religion or absence of it, to live near some churches you can be hounded into funding repairs for them.

    The hypocrisy from Welby, with his concerns for “vulnerable people” turns the stomach.

  3. Norman Paterson says:

    I read Welby’s article in the Times today. It did not make a lot of sense, but that is, I find, par for the course. Williams was worse – he made no sense at all.

    My own argument is simple: why should we treat a person worse than we would treat a dog? When your dog has reached the point where its life is no pleasure, and there is no prospect of anything better to come, the last thing you can do for it is to give it a peaceful release. The vet gives it an injection and in 2 or 3 seconds it is all over. It is like these toy animals you get, made from beads on threads, with a spring to keep the thread taut. You press the spring in and the little animal sinks in a heap.

    When my wife was dying of cancer I resolved that I would overdose her on morphine if necessary. In the end I did not do this. Whether the hospital staff did, I have no way of knowing.

  4. charlie says:

    Agent, I am with you 100% on that. Every member of that group should be made public so the patient can decide as to allowing such a critter to even get in the same room with them. I’d want nothing to do with any of them, regardless their supposed knowledge/experience.
    Just how could they separate their religion from their practice of actual medicine?

  5. remigius says:

    I think the picture of Lord Carey, above, says so much. We normally see these religious leaders in their gold frocks, with their pointy gold hats, and golden sticks, sat on golden chairs.

    But look at him – just a bloke in a shirt and jacket. The only thing that sets him apart from a normal, rational person is his imaginary friend. He could easily be that weirdo in’t pub who everyone says hello to but doesn’t want to sit with.

    And yet Justin Welby, in his gold dress, with his gold hat, living in a palace…

  6. Trevor Blake says:

    Everyone knows the Bible is against suicide. Just think how twisted a religion is would be if Jesus voluntarily ended His life. And consider this verse…

    Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. – John 10:17-18

    Wait, no, don’t read the Bible! Nothing will ruin a soul for Christianity than reading the Bible.

  7. Robster says:

    That Saunders chappy above: ” that sees no meaning or purpose in suffering”. Purpose in suffering? What kind of nonsense is that? Suffering serves no purpose whatsoever other than rendering otherwise intelligent people, in a moment of need to embrace the absurd silliness offered by religion of all stripes. It’s hard to believe that a rational person cab see a that there’s a purpose in suffering. Religion is sick.

  8. Paul Cook says:

    I note that on the BBC world news today (13) that ex archbishop Desmond Tutu agrees with assisted death.

    Norman – you made a very private comment, you have my deepest sympathy.

  9. barriejohn says:

    My sister died of breast cancer in 1986, aged just 33 years. The treatment that she received in the hospital at Peterborough was pretty appalling in every way, and I think that today she would have survived (whether patient care would be any different now is anyone’s guess – locally it seems to depend upon which department is responsible for you ). Fortunately, my sister was able to die at home, surrounded by her family, due to the wonderful care which she received from MacMillan nurses. Towards the end she was receiving massive doses of morphine, and who knows to what extent that hastened her death? My father died of prostate cancer in 2007, and shortly before his death we were told that continuing to treat the constant infections that he was suffering (basically, blowing oxygen into his face at high pressure) would be increasingly distressing for him and, ultimately, pointless. My dad wasn’t stupid, and, without being told anything, said: “I think we’ve got to be brave”. One afternoon when my mother and I were talking to him he just closed his eyes and stopped breathing. He wouldn’t have wanted anything else. The religious can’t stand uncertainties, and want everything reduced to a formula so that they can say that they did “the right thing” and didn’t “sin”. That’s why they want it all written down for them. Real life isn’t like that. We are adults; we have intelligence; we need to make decisions as to what is in the best interests of our loved ones. Some people may arrive at different conclusions to others, but motive is all important. That is real morality, and it’s time that people grew up and realized that sometimes the dividing lines in life can be blurred.

  10. barriejohn says:

    The Daily Mail made much of the following story, and, horror of horrors, the couple are being featured on BBC News this morning. This woman “miraculously” identified the young man who had received her son’s heart – except that it WASN’T a miracle. They were attending a memorial service for organ donors ; she knew that her son’s heart had been given to a teeneger called Scott; Scott was one of the recipients reading lessons at the service. You have to feel deeply for the woman in her grief, and she was overjoyed to meet the rescipient of her son’s heart (though this is NOT supposed to happen for obvious reasons), but the story is almost completely bogus. Maybe in future the relatives of donors will be given less information in the light of what has happened here.

  11. jay says:

    In the US, some of the strongest resistance to choice in dying comes from the (typically somewhat liberal side) advocates for the disabled. They argue similarly to Welby that this could put subtle pressure on victims (hence cannot be tolerated!) and also that social acceptance of death as an option ‘psychically’ tells the sick that their life is not valuable (hence cannot be tolerated!). They line up with the Christians on this one.

    Essentially their position is ‘we don’t want you to have a choice… because we don’t want you to’

  12. JohnMWhite says:

    Carey’s case for legalising assisted suicide is a counsel of despair devoid of Christian faith and hope.

    Christian faith and hope is the idea that if you really, really believe you might not get sent to hell to suffer for eternity. That’s not a hope I miss, and it is not any comfort to those suffering in the here and now, especially if they are (shocking as this might be) not Christian. Christianity cannot continue to tell the plurality of a multi-cultural nation that the comfort and belief of Christians means everybody should be made to suffer. What an absurdly self-centred stance, and what a blight on any notion of human decency Christianity might ever claim to have at its heart. It is pure authoritarianism and is an entirely empty moral system.

    I was recently at a hospital and given some forms with options for end of life care should I be incapable of making decisions. My choices are basically “do everything to keep me alive as long as possible” (that is actually how it is phrased) or “do not resuscitate and do not feed me”. Brilliant. Should the worst happen I either linger until I cannot be shocked back to life or I hope I suffocate before I starve. Oh but at least I have hope! Cruel sycophants, if others suffer while they suck up to their god, so be it.

    What I find most astounding about Carey’s article is the almost complete lack of any theological framework for his argument.

    What does that tell you about the theology? Oops, we have to ignore this fan fiction nonsense to justify being a compassionate human being?