In the course of our humanity’s history, the great monotheistic religions, whose beliefs and principles are based on questionable interpretations of so-called sacred texts received at various epochs by prophets, obviously the elect of God, these religions were responsible for the worst kinds of horrors, in the name of evangelization; one of the greatest examples being the Catholic Church’s Inquisition in the Middle Ages which made millions of victims.

Jean Riendeau, Columnist

Today, it is more the question of pedophile priests and bishops which makes the headlines. Even though one might think that this church has done its Mea Culpa on this issue with thousands of young victims, it is only reluctantly that the high authorities of the church recognize the extent of the damage, and only because public pressure was such that they had no choice.

This Church is failing miserably at entering modernity. It designates homosexuality as a disease, moreover curable by therapy, it still denies women access to priesthood, and the pope has just compared abortion to “hiring a hitman”! Visibly, this church is thoroughly lost! But is there an issue in which the Catholic Church could hope for some form of redemption, by showing common sense and humanity instead of following to the letter principles from a past where superstitions were king?

Medical assistance in dying may open the door to this ageing institution. In a recent article , we learn a little more about the position of the church: “Yet the position of the Catholic Church regarding medical assistance in dying is clear, a religion which celebrates life is ill-positioned to promote the possibility of ending it.” To this harsh position, the Bishop of Edmundston, Bishop Claude Champagne adds a nuance: “We respect and accompany the people who undertake this process”. But this opening in the clouds is quickly stymied by this: “Most of the stakeholders of the Catholic Church in the East of the country are opposed to doctor-assisted dying in principle, even if they respect the parishioners in their decision”. “They prefer to promote what they call pastoral help to live.”

The entire questioning that this position entails rests upon the word “live”! All the old precepts of suffering and original sin in order to gain access to the Christians’ paradise are found in this vision of the word “live”, which here is synonymous with “suffering until one’s last breath”! As far as compassion goes, we’ll pass! Fortunately, science allows us to relieve suffering, and the position of the Raelian Church is quite different on this question. Rael, in his book “Intelligent Design”, brings a lucid perspective full of humanity on this question: “Everyone has the right to live, the right to love and the right to die. Everyone is the director of his or her own life and death. Death is nothing, but suffering is terrible, and everything must be done to eliminate it. Someone who is suffering too much has the right to commit suicide.” And then: “If someone you love suffers very much and wishes to die, but does not have the strength to commit suicide, help them to take their own life.” P177.

There still is a long way to go in our societies on this issue, let’s hope that humanity and compassion will prevail!

Jean Riendeau
Columnist for the Canadian Raelian Movement.