Paul Tuns:

The Archdiocese of Montreal is suing the Quebec government because the government is unwilling to provide a euthanasia exemption for St. Raphael Palliative Care Home.

In late 2023, the St. Raphael Palliative Care Home and Day Centre signed an agreement with the archdiocese guaranteeing that St Raphael’s would provide palliative end-of-life care but would never commit euthanasia.

In June 2023, the Quebec legislature passed the François Legault government’s Bill 11, the End-of-Life Care Act, which, among other things, requires every palliative care institution in the province to provide so-called Medical Assistance in Dying – euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Le Devoir reports that the provincial government will not provide an exemption to the euthanasia requirement for palliative care centres to St. Raphael’s. An exemption to the Act was requested from the Minister of Health in September, but it was refused.

According to a Google translation of the French-language article, “The Archbishop of Montreal asked the court to invalidate the recent addition to the law that requires all palliative care homes to offer medical assistance in dying, the End-of-Life Care Act: such a provision would be contrary to freedom of religion, and therefore unconstitutional.”

The archdiocese says that St. Raphael’s is on church property and as a Catholic institution should not be forced to commit procedures that run contrary to its values and “the law of God.”

In 2019, the archdiocese signed a 100-year lease with St Raphael Palliative Care House for $1 per year with the condition that euthanasia would not be administered there. At the time, Quebec law permitted palliative care institutions to decide whether they would or would not commit euthanasia on their premises.

St Raphael’s provides 12 palliative care beds at no cost to patients.

Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine stated: “We ask the Court to recognize that it is contrary to our freedom of religion and conscience guaranteed by the Canadian and Quebec Charters to require that, on our property, acts be committed which are, in our eyes, morally unacceptable.”

Archbishop Lépine said the consequences of the new Act is “morally unacceptable” as “The state is thus de facto hijacking the intent of the founders and donors and the mission of the former church, which we are graciously making available to a community organization.”

He added that “Hospices – which are community organizations, not public institutions – should be able to define their own mission and the services they are prepared to offer, as was the case until recently.”

Archbishop Lépine stressed the inviolability of human life: “According to the Catholic faith, human life is a sacred and inviolable gift, from conception to natural death.”

The archdiocese’s filing of the suit said, “Keeping the provision in question in force could … have a paralyzing effect on all religious groups seeking to get involved in society through voluntary work or philanthropy while respecting their beliefs and convictions.”

Quebec Life Coalition praised the move as “news as surprising as it is encouraging.” QLC president Georges Buscemi said that “caught between the choice of canceling his contract with Maison St-Raphael, and thus closing the facility, or turning a blind eye to the perpetration of euthanasia on archdiocesan property,” Archbishop Lépine, “chose instead to confront the source of the problem: Mr. Legault’s government.”

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition said, “The euthanasia lobby wants to force every Canadian medical institution, including religiously affiliated institutions, to kill their patients by euthanasia.”

Schadenberg said there is a similar situation in British Columbia, where Dying with Dignity is trying to force St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver to carry out medical murders on patients.