The Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a statement clarifying the church’s position on euthanasia and assisted suicide. It is also calling on Catholics to question politicians about their stands on the issue.

“Catholics, like all other citizens, have the right and duty to participate in the political processes of our democracy,” the bishops state.

“Our elected representatives should be questioned about their positions on euthanasia and assisted suicide. We call on Canadians to encourage those who hold office, in all political parties, to protect the right to life, especially the right to life of those who are disabled, frail, sick or suffering.”

Entitled, “Going to the House of the Father: A Statement on the Dignity and Destiny of Human Life,” the document was written by a committee for the OCCB.

It carefully outlines the differences between euthanasia and assisted suicide and explains the moral and ethical problems associated with each. It urges Catholics to familiarize themselves with the relevant moral issues accompanying end-of-life medical alternatives.

“There is undoubtedly great anxiety about medical decisions at the end of life,” the document states. “Some of this anxiety amongst Catholics stems from a mistaken understanding of what the moral law requires, even leading some to be sympathetic to calls for euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

The statement was issued as a response to the increasing demand by secular society to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide, by clearly outlining the church’s teaching in a pastoral way, said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

“The OCCB needs to be congratulated for effectively responding to the concerns of the people of faith,” Schadenberg said. “They have dealt in an orthodox manner with an issue that some people view as being very complex. They have explained the issues in human language that is understandable and also compelling.

“I would encourage Catholic parishes and people of faith from across Canada to order copies of this document from the OCCB. It is fresh, pursuasive and truly Catholic-Christian and available in both French and English.”

Copies of “Going to the House of the Father” are available through Barbara Harrison at the OCCB at: (416) 923-1423 or by contacting the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: 1-877-439- 3348.

This article originally appeared April 17 at and is reprinted with permission.