Pro-life activist and executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Alex Schadenberg, was a featured speaker at the recent Catholic Women’s League convention for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. He warned of the dangers of legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Evelyn Theriault, the outgoing CWL diocesan president, told The Interim that, “For many of us, euthanasia is something that we are not paying any attention to at this time. And this is why becoming more knowledgeable will allow us to answer questions when they do arise.” Theriault maintained that it was important for the CWL to remain faithful to Catholic teaching, including on life issues. “That is our culture,” she said. “That is our life – the respect we show to all humans, from conception to natural death.”

Sister Shannon Hickey is the spiritual adviser for the CWL’s Sault Ste. Marie region. She told The Interim: “Euthanasia is an important topic in today’s world, because so many people are not taking life seriously.” Hickey stated that the question of euthanasia and assisted suicide often arises when people do not want to see a loved one suffer. It’s a battle of conscience, she said: “It’s about having deeper faith in God. If we don’t remain faithful to God and to the teachings of the Catholic church, then we’re finished.”

She continued: “Euthanasia doesn’t leave room for the miracles of God in your life or even the miracle of being able to cope with your suffering. If they unite with the Lord, it’s redemptive for them and for ourselves.”

Sister Cecilia from Holy Trinity Parish in Sudbury appreciated Schadenberg explaining the distinction between actively ending a person’s life and refusing extraordinary means of medical treatment once a person nears the end of his or her life. This is a topic of frequent confusion among the general public. Sister Cecilia was involved in pastoral care in a hospital for 20 years and thought Schadenberg’s talk clarified “this for a lot of people.”

But both Hickey and Sister Cecilia clarified that food and water are not extraordinary means and thus, they are not to be withdrawn.