ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Little Sisters Offer True Dignity in Dying, Says Prelate
Glasgow Archbishop Responds to Assisted Suicide Bill
GLASGOW, Scotland, OCT. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of
Glasgow says there is a marked difference between the Little Sisters of
the Poor who enable the elderly to enjoy life until God calls them
home, and Parliamentarians who are pushing for Scotland to become the
first part of Britain to legalize assisted suicide.
Archbishop Mario Conti made this reflection Monday when he celebrated a
Mass for the Little Sisters to mark the first anniversary of the
canonization of their founder, St. Jeanne Jugan.
The Little Sisters of the Poor have care homes for the elderly around
the world. In fact, last month, Benedict XVI visited one of their homes
during his pastoral visit to the United Kingdom.
Archbishop Conti's reflections came as Member of Parliament Margo
MacDonald, herself suffering from Parkinson's Disease, is attempting to
make assisted suicide legal in Scotland. Last week, a special Holyrood
committee to examine evidence on the measure had its final session.
That examination was the first of a three-stage parliamentary process
the bill faces.
A "Care Not Killing" campaign is under way to oppose the measure.
Archbishop Conti's address to the Little Sisters of the Poor spoke of
the "delicacy of the care given" to the elderly by the nuns.
He said that as he was preparing his homily, he was shown a note by the
future Blessed John XXIII, who was struck by the service offered by the
sisters in Turkey.
"Every day I witness with my own eyes the edifying spectacle of the
survival of the spirit of simplicity, humility and inexhaustible and
trusting generosity that the Little Sisters still offer today in
Constantinople. It is as though certain traits of their blessed Mother
Foundress shine in each one of them," the future Pope wrote.
Archbishop Conti added: "It struck me that I could say the same about
my own visits here, which I value very much. I am always deeply
impressed by the delicacy of the care given and the dedication of those
who give it.
"On your Web site there is a lovely summary of your vocational charism
... it notes: 'Nothing means more to us than continuing the spirit and
work of Jeanne Jugan in the world today -- welcoming the needy elderly
into our homes, forming one family with them, enabling them to enjoy
life and caring for them with love and respect until the moment God
calls them home!'"
The prelate called this a "simple but weighty responsibility" and
affirmed that it is carried out with "great skill and attention."
Reflecting on the anniversary of Jeanne Jugan's canonization, the
Glasgow archbishop affirmed that being recognized a saint "means that a
person's life and work and message have a universal impact and
He said: "In this case the love for and care for the elderly is in
striking contrast to those in our society who would see old age as a
kind of failure which must be resisted, and see infirmity as a burden
to be despised, culminating in a desire to promote euthanasia as an
alternative to natural decline.
"Here, in this place, we read a very different story to that told by
supporters of Margo MacDonald's bill currently before the Scottish
Parliament which seeks to legalize assisted suicide.
"Human beings living with the burden of age and in declining strength
are assisted to live -- not to die."
The archbishop said the concept of "frail elderly being a 'burden' to
others is alien" to those who work in the Little Sisters' home and who
"recognize in each and every resident, a person made in the image and
likeness of God, worthy of the highest levels of care in surroundings
characterized by delicacy and serenity."
"'Care not killing' is what happens here too," he affirmed. "And who
can argue that this oasis of loving tenderness, rather than the
doctor's syringe, is what is truly meant by 'dignity in dying.'"