Bishop Responds to Health and Social Care Select Committee Report on Assisted Suicide

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Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues, has issued a statement on the publication of a report by the Health and Social Care Select Committee on Assisted Dying/Assisted Suicide.


Given that Parliament has already rejected any changes to the law on assisted suicide in 2015 and 2021, I welcome the decision of the Select Committee not to recommend the legalisation of assisted suicide. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales opposes its legalisation out of concern for the good of every person in society, the protection of this good in law, and the spiritual and pastoral care of the sick and dying. The act of assisted suicide violates the dignity inherent to every person’s life, which is to be cherished and cared for at all stages until natural death.

As highlighted in the Committee’s report, experts have noted that there have been major problems in safeguarding the vulnerable and those without full mental capacity when assisted suicide and/or euthanasia has been introduced in other jurisdictions.

Recognising the distress and suffering of those who are sick and vulnerable, I welcome the Committee’s recommendation that the accessibility and provision of palliative and end of life care needs to be improved – something the Catholic Church has consistently called for.

For Catholics and many others, consolation and support in times of terminal illness can be experienced through prayer, the sacrament of the sick and the caring and compassionate presence of loved ones as a person prepares for eternal life.

As Pope Francis has written, “human compassion consists not in causing death, but in embracing the sick, in supporting them in their difficulties, in offering them affection, attention, and the means to alleviate suffering”.

Bishop John Sherrington
Lead Bishop for Life Issues
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster