The Statement of Support for Universal Access to Palliative Care in Canada (October 2016) is a consensus statement of all the delegates of the thirteen churches which comprised the membership of the Commission on Faith and Witness in 2015-2016.
This Statement is the outcome of a long and profound discussion among the Commission on Faith and Witness members. This discussion was prompted at first by the issue of legalizing physician-assisted death in Canada, but then broadened into a wide reflection on life and death as the bedrock of Christian anthropology.
While this work is continuing, and revealing a wide spectrum of theological and pastoral approaches and views, our conclusions about palliative care, represented in this Statement, quickly received the enthusiastic consensus of all. These conclusions reflect foundational values on which we all build: giving care where there is need, comfort where there is distress, love where there is fear.
One of our most enlightening discoveries, which we have tried to reflect in the Statement, is that “palliative care” engages far more than just coping with terminal illness and pain management. It is a general need of anyone who has become conscious of impending death, and embraces both the dying person and all the caregivers, from physicians all the way to families, in the process. Not everyone requires hospice care and “medicalization,” but everyone has a right to die supported by positive caring.
We offer this Statement for your use in any church or public discussions of end-of-life issues, and encourage you to disseminate it widely in your church and among your contacts.
Recognizing that issues surrounding decisions at the end of life were front-and-centre in both church and society, the Commission on Faith and Witness undertook a survey of its membership, resulting in the release of an ecumenical statement of convergence on euthanasia and assisted suicide (1996).