Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Urgent Questions! – Workshop Guide

Monday, 30 September 2013
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Catholics believe that life is a gift of God's love. We are stewards, not owners, of life. Consequently, the time and circumstances of our birth and death are not ours to choose. When, from time to time, our country considers the possibility of legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, Catholics cannot remain silent on the sidelines. We must take part in the discussion and suggest responses inspired by our deepest convictions. This workshop can help us to reflect on those convictions and to formulate appropriate responses to the challenge that confronts us. The workshop can be hosted as a parish-based event. As "domestic churches", couples and families might also choose to host the workshop in their own homes, for themselves or with groups of friends.


The person facilitating the workshop should be aware that the definitions of euthanasia and assisted suicide

 contained in the brochure Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide:  Urgent Questions

are those proposed by medical science and the Church’s authoritative teaching.   Similarly, the perspective advanced by this brochure

 on this delicate issue faithfully reflects the teachings of the Catholic Church.


A. Opening greeting from moderator:
The moderator extends a few words of welcome to those gathered, summarizing the objectives of the workshop.

B. Invocation of the Holy Spirit:
The moderator invites those gathered to join in the following, well known, prayer: Come Holy Spirit

All: Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Moderator: Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.

All: And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Moderator: Let us pray.

All: O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

C. Reading from the Word of God:
Genesis 9:5-6

D. Small groups discussion:
The moderator breaks the gathering into small groups — ideally including no more than six individuals. Each group is assigned a limited number of questions — found on the last page of the brochure. A photocopy of the last page of the brochure is provided to each participant. Each group nominates a spokesperson/secretary who will report to the larger group at the completion of the exercise (45 minutes).

E. Sharing with large group:
A spokesperson from each of the small groups is invited to report the insights of his or her group relative to each question. Contributions to the larger group should be limited to one main insight per question considered (45 minutes).

F. Closing thanks and optional prayer:
The moderator thanks the participants for their presence and their insights and — optionally — closes by inviting all gathered to join in praying the Lord's Prayer.

G. Parish bulletin:
A summary of the main insights emerging from the workshop can be published in the parish bulletin.

Suggested supplementary readings:

  • Address of John Paul II to the participants in the International Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments and the Vegetative State, March 20, 2004
  • ( spe_20040320_congress-fiamc_en.html)
  • Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2004 (see especially paragraphs 155 and 565-574)
  • Declaration on Euthanasia, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1980.
  • The Dignity of Older People and their Mission in the Church and in the World, Pontifical Council for the Laity, 1998.
  • Evangelium Vitae: On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life, Pope John Paul II, 1995 (see especially paragraphs 8, 15, 17, 20, 27 and 63).
  • Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (paragraph 27), Second Vatican Council.
  • Veritatis Splendor, The Splendor of the Truth, Pope John Paul II, 1993 (paragraph 80).
  • On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (Christifideles Laici), Pope John Paul II, 1988 (see especially paragraphs 37-38).
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church (see especially paragraphs 2258-2262, 2268-2269, 2276-2283).

For personal prayer and meditation:

  • Colossians 1:24
  • Deuteronomy 5:17
  • Deuteronomy 30:19, 20
  • Exodus 20:13 and 21:22
  • Leviticus 24:17, 18
  • Matthew 16:21-28
  • Proverbs 24:11-12
  • Revelation 22:15

With a view to making this workshop as fruitful as possible, copies of the brochure should be made available one or two weeks in advance of the event (possibly following Sunday masses). If the brochure is not distributed in advance, copies should be made available to participants following the completion of the workshop. To order, contact the Catholic Organization for Life and Family: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (613) 241-9461, extension 161. Suggested donation: 40 cents per copy.

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