The Catholic Church is beseeching its members to work against Proposition 106, the aid-in-dying ballot initiative on Colorado’s statewide ballot.
As of last week, the Archdiocese of Denver had given $1,115,000 to oppose the measure. The Diocese of Colorado Springs pitched in $500,000. The Archdiocese of Kansas City, the Diocese of Grand Rapids, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Orange, California and the Diocese of Pittsburgh have anted in with donations over $5,000 each.
Catholic churches are handing out “No on Prop. 106” yard signs, asking their flocks to fund the campaign against the measure and urging opposition in their church bulletins. The Colorado Catholic Conference is calling for Catholics to recite the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel for “help in the battle against forces of darkness” that, as church officials see it, are working to pass the measure.
“Holy Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the Divine power of God cast into hell Satan and all wicked spirits who wander throughout the world for the ruin of souls. Amen,” reads the prayer.
After communion and a sermon about tithing at its late Mass Sunday morning, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Denver turned to the subject of Prop. 106. The Rev. Doug Grandon, parochial vicar of the church, told parishioners that the initiative defies the Church’s protection of life from conception to natural death. Calling the measure “a bad bill,” he encouraged his flock “in the strongest of possible terms to stand for life as you go to vote this voting season.”
Grandon sees the initiative as a “slippery slope.”
“Countries that have adopted this, their culture really takes a slide and people feel pressure to take their lives when they become a burden,” he told The Independent. Worse than that, he said, “is the premature ending of lives that are deemed to be not worth living. That’s really tragic.”
At Grandon’s urging, parishioners picked up yard signs, anti-106 campaign fliers and leaflets for Catholic-supported hospice care before heading out into Sunday’s sunshine, where St. Vincent de Paul sign – visible along S. University Boulevard – reads, “No law can give me the right to do what is wrong.”
Other religious groups also are working to kill Prop 106. Colorado Christian University has donated $50,000 to the opposition campaign and the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family has given $20,000. Opposition has been amplified by some disability rights advocates who worry the measure could be misused to end the lives of disabled Coloradans.
If passed by voters in the Nov. 8 election, the initiative would give adult patients who are Colorado residents, mentally capable, and have six months or fewer to live (as confirmed by two physicians) the right to self-administer drugs to end their lives. Supporters frame the measure as a compassionate option to prolonged suffering. They reject opponents’ depiction of the measure as “euthanasia” and bristle at opponents’ assertions that there’s a redemptive power in end-of-life pain.
“There’s nothing noble or redemptive in agony or suffering,” says Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, the Denver-based group leading the aid-in-dying movement nationally.
The Independent is sponsoring a forum on Prop 106 next week on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 20th. Coombs Lee will debate disability rights attorney Carrie Ann Lucas, who helped kill aid-in-dying bills in both of the last two legislative sessions. Click here for more information about the event.
Photo by Susan Greene