Monday, 23 October 2017




As a Christian, I believe in the Christian Commandment and ideal: THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

But is that Commandment to be kept 100% ?


For instance, are we not all permitted to resist someone attacking us or our loved ones - with appropriate force - even to the point of killing if that is the only way of stopping our attacker(s).

This became a reality for me quite a number of years ago when the RUC told me that my life was in danger and an attempted attack on me took place. They put bulletproof material on my doors and windows and gave me a personal protection weapon - which thank God, I never had to use. They also brought me for training in the police firing range. As soon as The Troubles ended I was delighted to be able to hand back my weapon to the Northern Ireland Office.

Christians believe that when someone tries to kill us we have the right to resist, even if our attacker is killed - and in trying to kill us, our attacker forfeits his/her right to life.


I do not agree with the death penalty. But many Christians do - like the Christian Right in the USA.


Personally, I can never see myself opting for euthanasia for myself. If I die in bed I would hope that I might be able, with my eyes on the Crucifix, ride the bucking bronco to the end - uniting my sufferings with the sufferings of Christ on the Cross.

But only 17% of the world is Christian and some of those Christians agree with euthanasia.

As we saw on the Blog the other day, the eminent theologian, Father Hans Kung has said it is an option he might choose?

One of the most horrific deaths I have helped someone towards was a lady from Larne who died of Motor Neurone Disease. She went from being a very attractive and talented woman to being a living skeleton who eventually drowned in her own saliva.

I believe that someone like that should be allowed the option of strictly safeguarded euthanasia.

Of course, the process might be open to abuse and that's why it would have to be very strictly controlled legislation and medical practice.

Why for instance, should an atheist, who does not believe in a God or in the redemptive value of suffering (which I believe in)be forced to spend months or years in pain?

When my Mum, Jo, was dying she had had a stroke that destroyed her ability to swallow. We could not even give her a mouthful of water to quench her massive thirst.

We had a wonderful three weeks of chats. I could not bring her fruit or drinks and so I went to my local pharmacy and bought a jar of beautifully perfumed balm and gave her a gentle massage every day. I also said Mass on many occasions at the foot of her deathbed.

On the night she died I was leaving the hospital at midnight to go for a rest and one of the nurses asked me not to leave.

Just after midnight two junior female doctors went into my mother and gave her a morphine (I think) injection. A few minutes later the nurse called me and I went in and with her for her last ten minutes.

Is there, and has there not been, in medical circles, with the use of morphine etc, a hastening of death?

I think there has been.

So, like abortion, euthanasia is not a 100% absolutist position.

Between the black and the white, there is a whole lot of grey!

And above all else, I believe that Jesus does, and will understand those, who could not face the bucking bronco at the end of their lives.

Its all wonderfully summed up in Father Faber's beautiful hymn:

Image result for father faber





  1. Here's my moral tuppence worth, Bishop P. . If it were a battlefield and my mate was agonisingly stomach-wounded, without medic aid, and screamin' for me to finish him off (before his wounds inevitably and agonosingly did so), then, I hope I should find the courage and selflessness to do so.

    1. What an agonising and scary thought.

      What would I Do?

      What would Jesus Do?

    2. "What would Jesus do?" Jesus would heal him of course, you stupid liberal idiot.

    3. 23:55, yeah, sure, but JC wasn't human as we are. No siree. So WHAT would he do if he were?

  2. On 20/October '17 at 11.51

    On 20th October you received an excellent post on euthanasia and its dangers.
    I suggest you re-read it.
    I certainly won't try to better it here.
    I am often amazed though how people can so easily forget or ignore things so recently read!
    (It's just as well they're not doing important exams..!)

    1. Yes, that post on dangers of euthanasia appears shortly into the "Hans Kung" debate last week here at 11.51 on 20th October.
      . I found it.. Excellent.

    2. That comment, which I've just re-read, is more panicked than thoughtful. Worth considering, yes; but not objective enough to carry the moral and intellectual weight the above two posters appear to credit it with.

      Using fear to convince others in debate on a matter whose consequences may be largely unknown is anti-intellectual. Fear and scaremongering are no grounds for making decisions on such things.

      We need a grown-up discussion of euthanasia, not exposure to playground terrors.

    3. Comment at 11.51 has a lot packed in and yet manages to not be pretentious and long-winded. Perhaps the original poster will see today's debate and expand.

    4. I disagree! I think that the actual strength of the post at 11.51 was that the poster gets right to the heart of how euthanasia could actually affect you or me or any of us or present a problem in a family etc once the intellectualsing is all over. We have had debate after debate in medical research circles and all hot air when you come up against the reality. The poster reminds us in a succinct manner that we should be careful what we ask for in case we get it! I don't see that as deliberate scaremongering. I am sure that wasn't their intention.

    5. 16:45, that post is entirely speculative, and scaremongering. Not a rational ground for debate.
      Perhaps you enjoy irrational debate.

      Incidentally, at or around the advent of locomotion and/or the combustible engine, prophets of fear were forecasting that high speeds (and we are talking here nothing like the soeeds of today) would have a detrimental effect on those experiencing them. It all turned out, of course, to be arrant nonsense.

      It never surprises me that, when any controversial proposal is put up for debate, the hysterical seem to demand attention.

    6. Ha ha! It wasn't just then that there was plenty of "arrant nonsense". But seriously. thanks for the fresh supply...

    7. There is a big difference MC between the projections regarding motorised travel and the consequences of the normalisation of euthanasia...

    8. 19:19, dear God in heaven! Must I spoonfeed you? The point I made (and which you missed by a proverbial mile), is that speculative thinking based on personally projected fear is not a good basis for opposing ANYthing, much less denying it.

      If we allow fear to rule us, we might as well stand still; society might as well stand still. (In fact, this is how we were...still are in some ways...within Roman Catholicism. It has ever used fear as a means of personal control.)

  3. No, no.. giving the correct prescribed dosage of "palliative pain relief morphine (with a second doctor as an essential witness that there was no malpractice) was emphatically not euthanasia. Nor should it have been.
    We have the Hippocratic Oath to ensure we always preserve and not destroy life.

  4. Your dear mother was given palliative pain relief by doctors. That was not euthanasia, Pat.
    Experienced nursing Staff would have been able to tell that your mother probably had not long to go as there are always certain signs in the BP, and especially in the breathing sounds and pattern at that late stage. If they felt that you would like to be present for your mother's passing, they would have felt that it was a kindness to call you into the room.
    I experienced exactly the same in my family.

  5. "When the Supreme Court ruled that states may continue to ban doctor-assisted suicide, it addressed the kind of death in which doctors actively help patients kill themselves. What was not considered in that decision is the fact that nowadays many, if not most, Americans die because someone -- doctors, family members or they themselves -- has decided that it is time for them to go.

    What might be called managed deaths, as distinct from suicides, are now the norm in the United States, doctors say. The American Hospital Association says that about 70 percent of the deaths in hospitals happen after a decision has been made to withhold treatment. Other patients die when the medication they are taking to ease their pain depresses, then stops, their breathing".

  6. (I am poster from 1.16 earlier today)
    I think, Pat, that your dear mother received very good nursing care over the previous days and weeks and part of that day to day monitoring would have been to administer correct dosages of appropriate pain relief if they could see it was required for the patient's comfort. That was the right thing to do and meant that your experience of visiting her would have been to find her peaceful and as far as possible pain-free. Palliative injections then would be renewed after the correct number of hours or as need arose.. Pat, I respectfully make the suggestion that this was the case in all probability.
    I wasn't present. You were. (--and very much to your credit)

    1. I am not suggesting that doctors are doing anything wrong.

      I realised that it was my Mum's time to go to God.

      But there is an unspoken practice among hospital doctors whereby end of life patients and gently helped on the last furlong of life's race.

  7. This topic has been addressed before. There is no legalistic yes/no answer. Again I am drawn to Scripture. How did God deal with the suffering of his people? They were invited to choose good over evil in every circumstance of life. Look how we manage animal suffering. Surely people are entitled to the same if not more respect

  8. I think it is ungodly to keep someone in torture. There is more God in taking someone out of a living torture and giving them peace. Obviously I'm not saying put everyone down that has minor ailment otherwise there would be massive repercussion on society. I agree in I think we need to continue this discussion and develop policy on Euthanasia that is compassionate and wise.

    1. But if we were to do this, it must ALWAYS be consensual.

  9. When my mum died earlier this year, I know that she was periodically given injections (of what I didn't...and still don't... know and felt I couldn't ask, because ny dad is quite a controlling person and was the next of kin). I'm not suggesting anything legally or morally untoward here, but is there any professional reader of the blog today, with knowledge/experience of palliative care who could inform me?

  10. Probably a light sedative, Magna,if your mum had seemed a little restless and agitated. It would be topped up after so many hours... If she had been suffering from a condition that is associated with pain (which disturbs rest and sleep) she might have been on pain-relieving injections. If the pain had been very severe, she may have been permitted light morphine but there are other analgesics too. The purpose behind the choice would have been to settle on a plan that made her comfortable and at ease. Almost certainly one of the above as prescribed by the ward Consultant.

    1. When my mother was dying and I was her next of kin the consultant put a DNR ( Do not resuscitate) the cover of her file without telling or consulting Me!

      When I challenged he told me the law allowed him to do that!

      I exploded and basically told him, in building site language what I would do to him if he proceeded. He backed down.

      I had no problem in principle with a DNR - but just the arrogant way he did it.

      There are nightmare doctors out there!

    2. Thank you very much ideed.

      You have put my mind at rest.

    3. No problem, Magna... No need to worry about it now....

  11. The Liverpool care Pathway was a form of Euthanasia before the NHS phased it out some years ago. It basically was assisted dying and I'm convinced it's still being secretly implemented by some clinicians. Particularly with regards to elderly patients with little or no family.

    Sr. Mary

    1. Think of this as you may! When the drip is removed and the morphine syringe driver is increased,what would you call that?

    2. I would call it murder.

  12. That would be disgraceful if euthanasia or something resembling it was been practised on the sly. (Exactly one of the situations that poster @11.51 was warning about.. once you permit the thin edge of a wedge...)

    1. What are you talking about, 20:32? 'Once you permit the thin end of a wedge'? But euthanasia HADN'T been permitted when Liverpool Pathway was running. There was no 'thin end of a wedge'.

    2. I realise that Magna - - no thin end of the wedge as far as the law (in strict terms) was concerned but what I was alluding to was the "softening" up of the rules so that ambiguity etc was being allowed to creep in and was maybe going unchallenged or in some cases, unnoticed.

  13. Sr. Mary at 19.55 you raise a very important and valid point. The Liverpool Pathway was phased out as you correctly say but I fear like you Sister that it has been replaced by a new name and it still exists. The NHS has denied this but they would wouldn't they. Hospitals were encouraged at one point to withdraw water, stick 'do not resuscitate' stickers on patients files and constantly sedate them so they had no food or drink thus increasing death. You would be horrified at present how many 'do not resuscitate' stickers are placed on people's files and it could be your file. So elements of this horrible Liverpool Pathway are still being implemented. How many patients are given numerous injections of morphine at the end of life to weaken the heart and speed up death? People do not realise the half of it. When you are at your next hospital appointment or accompanying an elderly relative then ask to see your/their file as is your right to do so and look out for that sticker on the front. Do you ever wonder why the hospital consultant always has your file open and you very rarely see the front cover??

  14. What a load of codswallop 21.19.
    As a hospital professional for over 30 years.
    Clients got morphine or other to relieve pain, yes this may have accentuated death sooner rather than later, but the intention is to relieve pain.

    1. A resl hospital Staff member would never refer to a patient as a "client"
      Buyer beware!

  15. Magna.....when the prescribed dose of morphine no longer controls the pain, it has to be almost doubled , as just a little increase in dose is still ineffective.
    Hospital staff and mari Curia staff are experts at judging when increase is necessary.
    Believe you me, the pain from certain diseases is one would want to see their loved one being denied pain relief.