I am in admiration of each one of those seminarians who have registered to vote in these past few days, for, as our Bishops have reminded us, “Responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation." (USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.)
This importance of conscientiously fulfilling this moral obligation is all the more evident when we are faced with an initiative to sanction Physician Assisted Suicide, legislation which Blessed Pope John Paul II called a “grave violation of God’s law, noting that its “legalization introduces a direct threat to the persons least capable of defending themselves and it proves most harmful to the democratic institutions of society.” (cf. Evangelium Vitae, 65 and 66.)
My brothers, I could not be more convinced that this moment and the decisions taken by our citizenry on this issue is as significant as the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973. Tens of thousands of the lives of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters are at stake.
If this initiative passes in the Commonwealth, I am convinced that it will spread through other Northeastern States at an alarming rate. Should this happen, the parishes in which you will minister will be faced with devastating choices. How does one provide pastoral care to a family whose elderly parent has committed suicide? Can the Church provide the rites of Christian Burial for someone who has made a conscious and premeditated decision to take their own life? I would suggest that this question is not only within the mission of every Catholic Institution, but a moral imperative for each and every one of is in these troubling times.
So, again, thanks to our panelists, whose insights I have looked forward to all day. As I have anticipated your subsequent questions on this truly vital issue for the Church in the New England States.