Friday, 22 November 2013



The question of euthanasia is back in the headlines for two reasons:

1. The Irish Government intends to explore the issue in the Irish Parliament.

2. The highly respected Catholic theologian Hans Kung, who has developed Parkinson's Disease is saying that he is considering the option.
Hans Kung

Euthanasia is a social, moral and ethical issue. It should not be a "religious" issue in the narrow sense of religion. Each of our countries in the 21st century should ideally be a modern, democratic and pluralist country. At this time in history it is crazy for any nation to be a "catholic, Protestant or Muslim" nation. 

Adherents of the different religions should be quite free to hold their religious views and to have those views preached to them by their church or religious leaders - and indeed to vote according to their religious views.

But no nation on earth should be dictated to by any religion. And any church or religion that tries to dictate to the state should be told where to go.

There are secular moral and ethical issues surrounding the euthanasia debate:

1. No state or state agency should force or pressurise, either in a subtle or open manner, a person into choosing euthanasia.

2. The state should have a secular, moral and ethical system in place to make sure that the person choosing euthanasia is choosing it freely and not under pressure.

3. Anyone forcing a person into euthanasia should be tried for attempted murder, murder or manslaughter.

4. A number of doctors and health professions should be involved in the euthanasia choice.

5. People who chose the euthanasia option should not have to travel to another country but be able to avail of facilities either in their own home or in a suitable health care setting.

Personally I do not think that I would ever choose euthanasia. I am a Christian. The voluntary death of Christ on the cross and His embracing of suffering is a central part of my faith and spirituality. 

I would want to experience my life to the very last moment and if I were destined to be ill and suffer greatly in the lead up to my death I would want to go through all of that with the crucifix in my hand and unite my sufferings with the sufferings of Christ.

However I would never, ever, wish to impose my faith and spirituality on any other human being - be they atheist, agnostic, Christian, Muslim or whatever.

I can seen how some people cannot see any value in a long, debilitating, suffering-filled death.

I respect their right to say "ENOUGH NOW" and to end their life before they descend into a merciless pit of suffering.

I think that a modern state should give everyone in their right mind, who is acting freely, to call it a day.

Euthanasia should be legal - and of course it should be optional.

Bishop Pat Buckley


  1. Buckley - why don't you fuck off to Switzerland NOW and do it and do the world a favour.

    D&C priest

    1. Dear Fr. Your attitude discredits any bit of logic your opinion/s may or may not have-Sean

    2. Hi Pat if I had a wooden spoon I'd give it to you so you could stir the pot.
      Me I would take Euthenasia out of the religious domain for objective debate. Religious heads tend to be biased and illogical. Choosing to terminate human life is a complex issue. The dignity of the individual is central. Bear with me on this example. Some months ago our horse Boo contracted Hepititis and nearly died. She lost half her body weight in two weeks. We saw her lie down on the floor 5 times in 20 minutes. We wanted to put her out of her misery but the Vet said no. Now much later we know the vet was right. Boo is now running about the field like a young pup. Imagen if she were a person whom we wanted to put out of their misery. Given the persons own wishes-what if we made the wrong choice and once made how do we know our choice was the right one. Difficult and demanding choices. I say keep the debating away from all religious types. However let religious types pray for guidance and contribute to the debate as rational members of society. Sean

    3. As a passionate animal lover I found your comment both very touching and challenging.

      I had a similiar situation a couple of years ago with my Jack Russell Sheba - who is now running around like a puppie.

      However - what about the case with someone having terminal cancer that is invading other parts of the body. I would not want to tell someone like that they had to hang like Jesus on the cross ?


    4. There is always the exception That is why Laws are guidlines and can never cover every single eventuality-Sean

    5. How the clock turns! Yesterday Boo had a liver biopsy to guage how she is recovering from Hepititis. When the Vet made an incision he was unable to locate her liver even with ultrasound. Eventually he gave up. When we arrived this morning Boo had taken a serious downturn. If she were human I would have described her symptoms as delerious with a high fever. In the night she had sweated off a significant amount of body weight. Three vet visits later we unanimously agreed it was time for her to go to sleep. The Vet sedated Boo first and a few minutes later administered the lethal injection. The change from life being there to life not being there was instantaneous. She was ready to go. I could not say I marked a moment when I identified her death because she just lay down. I compared her death event to a lady whos hand I held shortly after ordination. She was the first person I gave the Sacrament of theick to. She quietly passed away and I knew she had gone. Whats this got to do with euthenasia? I'm not sure. I do no that the transition from life to whatever is sacred and we need to tread carefully when we involve ourselves in such occasions for we walk on holy ground-Sean

  2. I wonder if D&C (sounds like a medical procedure) can quote me Chapter and Verse where taking one's own life in case of those terrible illnesses is outlawed by the Ultimate Authority. And with that I don't mean the head of ANY religious establishment. I will put my name to this response, so that D&C can bark at me too.

    Wim Kuilder

    1. Wim,

      Yes D&C is also a gynae issue :-)

      Jesus never addressed the euthanasia issue. But I know that He would not expect everyone to embrace a mind blowing and pain filled few weeks just to keep some pope or Iman happy.


    2. If HE, my Saviour and the ONE, quite a few steps above ANY earthly religious authority does not put that kind of burden on me, I will take the liberty to use the privilege if and when. Then again, who knows what awaits any of us in our final hours. Let's talk to "D&C" again when and if his priestly values are being challenged by excruciating pain and the removal of all human dignities. It is easy to preach, a bit harder for all of us to live up to the sermon.
      I think that D&C should get himself a mirror.

    3. Wim,

      Do they make mirrors that big :-)


  3. Hans Kung is such a respected man, I would love to read his thesis. As a D&C priest I am disgusted but NOT shocked the above lack of Christianity - typical of a clerical dinner & get together! Imagine going into our Bro above and asking for spiritual guidance, now you all see that a lot of us in D&C are surrounded with clerical wolves who are ready to tear us apart at any sign of weakness!

    I keep going despite the above 'wolf', I live for bringing Holy Communion and the Sacraments of Healing to 'real', 'broken' people. I have more in common with them than the wolves!

    I am pro-life, but I am also a rationalist and open to a full moral & bio-ethical debate.

    God Bless
    D&C - Priest

    1. Father,

      I am basically "pro life" too. But we must be open-minded and not judge people who do not - as we see it - live up to the ideals we profess.

      Above all we priests should be compassionate and non-judgemental - for we have all sinned - and all do sin.

      You are to be admired for continuing to be a sheep / shepherd in the presence of the wolf pack.


    2. You threw in "God Bless'. how noble .D&C , whether you like it or not I AM a CHRISTIAN. To be entered into the Christian faith is not controlled by the Roman Catholic Church. It is controlled by CHRIST and as such I have been accepted., regardless of your Rome introduced restrictions.
      If you are strong ,D&C write / contact me at
      I don't need Pat to defend my faith .I will tell you though he has been through the years a rock, challenging, yes but a rock.

    3. To D&C,
      You are discussed by my lack of Christianity?
      How the F...., the way you told Pat to go to Switzerland, do you get in touch with your Saviour and explain that>

  4. It is possible to regulate euthanasia. Death is a private matter and if there is no harm to others, the state and other people have no right to interfere (a libertarian argument). Allowing people to die may free up scarce health resources (this is a possible argument, but no authority has seriously proposed it). Euthanasia happens anyway (a utilitarian or consequentialist argument)


    1. John,

      I think it has to be regulated. Otherwise would we not end up with a Hitler-like regime. No one should be forced to die. No one should be forced to live in certain circumstances?


  5. Euthanasia satisfies the criterion that moral rules must be universalisable
    Euthanasia happens anyway (a utilitarian or consequentialist argument)
    Is death a bad thing? Is it not part of our journey??


    1. Mark,

      Death is part of our journey.

      I am hoping that when the time comes I will face that part of the journey with courage and wisdom. But I probably will also be scared.


  6. Religious opponents disagree because they believe that the right to decide when a person dies belongs to God.

    Secular opponents argue that whatever rights we have are limited by our obligations. The decision to die by euthanasia will affect other people - our family and friends, and healthcare professionals - and we must balance the consequences for them (guilt, grief, anger) against our rights.

    We should also take account of our obligations to society, and balance our individual right to die against any bad consequences that it might have for the community in general.

    These bad consequences might be practical - such as making involuntary euthanasia easier and so putting vulnerable people at risk.

    Why NOT have a wholesome and a well informed debate - that D&C sounds just as bad as Dublin, full of middle aged, women & ordinary hating, power obsessed men in black or secret dressers nowadays!

    Anne - Dublin.

  7. The right to life includes the right to die -

    The right to life is not a right simply to exist.
    The right to life is a right to life with a minimum quality and value.
    Death is the opposite of life, but the process of dying is part of life.
    Dying is one of the most important events in human life.
    Dying can be good or bad.
    People have the right to try and make the events in their lives as good as possible.
    So they have the right to try to make their dying as good as possible.
    If the dying process is unpleasant, people should have the right to shorten it, and thus reduce the unpleasantness.
    People also have obligations - to their friends and family, to their doctors and nurses, to society in general.
    These obligations limit their rights.
    These obligations do not outweigh a person's right to refuse medical treatment that they do not want.
    But they do prevent a patient having any right to be killed.
    But even if there is a right to die, that doesn't mean that doctors have a duty to kill, so no doctor can be forced to help.

    Mercy Sr

    1. Mercy Sister,

      A very well though out contribution.

      Its not - like most things - a black and white issue.


  8. Euthanasia happens - better to make it legal and regulate it properly! As a medic in Donegal I see Euthanasia everyday on ward duty! I just think that the religious people cannot cope with human 'reality' itself!!

    Have you ever witnessed the internal organs make there way out of the body, there are certain things in this life that meds will not help with - extreme pain (10 - 10) is one of those things! The principle of double effect - ever hear of it! I know full well that I for every mg of pain med I administer I am simultaneously poisoning and killing the patient!

    Deal with it my friends - Hans Kung seems to be very well informed and open minded.

    Patrick - Medic Donegal

  9. Patrick,

    Yours is a very welcome comment.

    When my Beloved Mum was dying in 2006 after a stroke that left her not able to swallow even a sip of water I was leaving her hospital bed at 11.55 pm one night. The staff nurse said: "Don't go just yet". At 12.05 two young lady doctors went into her with a drug and syringe. Five minutes after they left the nurse called me to her side urgently. She slipped away very peacefully within 5 minutes. Of course I was devastated. But I knew that keeping her like she was would have been extreme cruelty. No body said anything. But I think those young doctors hastened her passing with whatever they administered to her. I did not blame them. Her suffering was ended.


  10. As another medic I feel very very strongly regarding this ethical and painful emotive issue.

    From my 23 years as a ward doctor there was and is pressure to force "vulnerable" adults to continue suffering in Ireland. Do you know how appalling chemotherapy's success rates are and how pernicious and excruciating its symptoms are?

    Here's a taste:

    Cardiotoxicity (heart damage)
    Hepatotoxicity (liver damage)
    Nephrotoxicity (kidney damage)
    Ototoxicity (damage to the inner ear), producing vertigo
    Encephalopathy (brain dysfunction)

    Immunosuppression and myelosuppression



    Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

    Secondary neoplasm

    As for abusing the law, the double effect is a loophole so broad you could fly the entire US Air Force through it.

    Just to give one example!

    Dr William

  11. William,

    Your "truth" is painfully sobering.

    We do to humans what we would tolerate anyone doing to our beloved pets.

    The whole issue is a challenge to logic - never mind religious faith.

    Thank you for contributing.


  12. I am 73, living alone and suffering from emphysema. At the moment, I am coping quite well, but,,,I wish I could sign a legal document now, saying that if ever I became incapable of looking after myself on a day to day basis, I would want to be "put to sleep". We do this for animals, yet do not show the same compassion for our fellow men. which, to me, smacks of hypocrisy. If I ever do become reliant on others to live my life, I will, if possible, take my own life. This situation really needs to be reconsidered, life belongs to those who live it, not some priest, bishop or pope in a foreign country like Italy.


  13. Euthanasia comes from Greek, meaning 'pleasant death'. It typically refers to the killing of a person for their own (or another) good, usually to end their suffering.

    While virtually no-one in modern society would condone involuntary euthanasia, 'mercy killings' and 'assisted suicides', where the person killed consents to his or her fate, are the subject of heated international debate.

    The time has come for a very well informed debate.

    R.E. Teacher - Manchester

  14. "Disabled and terminally ill people fear that calls to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia are likely to intensify. Our concerns are heightened by the current economic climate and calls from politicians from all parties for cuts in public services.
    "We, and our families, rely upon such services to live with dignity.... We face a bleak situation as calls for assisted suicide to be lawful are renewed, whilst vital services are being withdrawn or denied."

    Ethics Committee BMA

  15. "I believe that decisions about the timing and manner of death belong to the individual as a human right. I believe it is wrong to withhold medical methods of terminating life painlessly and swiftly when an individual has a rational and clear-minded sustained wish to end his or her life."

    Professor A C Grayling, Dignity in Dying Patron

  16. Some Christians would support euthanasia. They might argue:

    God is love. Christianity is love and compassion. Keeping someone in pain and suffering is not loving, it is evil. Euthanasia can be the most loving action, and the best way of putting agape love into practice.
    Humans were given dominion over all living things by God (Genesis 1:28), i.e. we can choose for ourselves.
    Jesus came so that people could have life “in all its fullness” John 10:10: this means quality of life. If someone has no quality of life, then euthanasia could be good.
    God gave humans free will. We should be allowed to use free will to decide when our lives end.
    “ Do to others as you would have them do to you”. How would you want to be treated?
    There are examples of euthanasia in the Bible - in 2 Samuel 1:9-10 “Then he begged me, ‘Come over here and put me out of my misery, for I am in terrible pain and want to die.’ So I killed him.”
    Thomas More, a Roman Catholic saint, wrote a book about a perfect society ('Utopia'), which included euthanasia - people "choose to die since they cannot live but in great misery."


  17. Yes, they do.
    They are somewhere in Rome
    Having said that, I love my Catholic ,Co- Christians.
    Once the Catholics get to heaven they will find a lot of people there, not belonging to the Catholic faith. It is going to be hard but they may find out that Christ actually loved people beyond the Catholic church.
    I believe (put me on the stake) that Christ actually loved protestants.
    Now that you are really confused, "how about the Son of God actually loving Muslims, Hindu and other people, not having had the "privilege" of being given the "Sacraments"

  18. Wim,

    There are2 D&C (Down and Connor diocese) on the blog today - a nice one and a repugnant one - a wolf and a sheep.

    Just in case you got them mixed up.

    You are arock yourself


    1. Did you figure out who it is?
      Can you let him know that I would love to spar with him.
      As you know ,I would love the challenge and frankly, I don't think that he would be ready