Letter in the Herald

Got another letter in today's smh. Over Easter Archbishop Jensen's Easter message was quoted in the paper,

Meanwhile, the subject of death dominated the Easter message from the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen, who also took on a sombre note.

“People talk glibly about 'death with dignity'. I can take the idea of a heroic death, a quiet death, an early death … but 'death with dignity' just seems like a cover-up,” Dr Jensen said.

But while pondering his own immortality, Dr Jensen found hope.

“My Saviour Jesus has walked this way ahead of me. He has walked it in the worst of all ways. And I know – that out of my indignity will come the glory of being with him forever.”

which garnered the following letter in response,

Isn't it nice to see Archbishop Jensen take the opportunity at Easter to denigrate the notion of ''dying with dignity'' in favour of his own pro-life agenda?

By highlighting the humiliation of Christ on the cross, he belittles the suffering of the countless people crippled by chronic and terminal diseases – people unable to feed themselves, communicate, toilet themselves or even breathe without excruciating pain. Yet the archbishop talks of ''pain, helplessness, loss and anxiety of death'' – how much of this has he seen?

Has he ever had to clean an incontinent father? Has he ever held the hand of a dying sister whose every movement is racked with pain? Has he ever experienced the utter helplessness of watching a severely disabled daughter struggle to breathe, knowing there is nothing he can possibly do? The archbishop has the privilege of proffering his opinion with neither the knowledge nor the experience of witnessing the immeasurable suffering of these people first hand. Those of us who treat and care for terminally ill patients doubt that his platitudes would mean very much to these terribly sick people.

Dr Abhishek K. Verma Hornsby

Rhetorical questions are often the easiest to ask, with the answer fully implied. On this occassion the import isn't even hidden. Somehow we are (as opposed to others) utterly remote from and unfeeling about these issues.


So I wrote,

Dr Verma (Letters, April 23-24) is perhaps jumping the gun when he accuses Archbishop Jensen of having ''neither the knowledge nor the experience of witnessing the immeasurable suffering of [the dying] first hand''.

As clergy we are regularly called to exactly those situations – not just of our own family but of many others.

When we challenge opinions on subjects such as euthanasia we do so out of both those direct experiences and our deep conviction that there are other ways to understand our human mortality – alternative understandings that flow from the physical Resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago. We do indeed have a radical ''pro-life agenda'' – how could we not?

David Ould Assistant minister, Neutral Bay Anglican Church

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/prisons-exemplars-of-safe-detention-20110424-1dt3m.html#ixzz1KUhgunz4

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/actions-louder-than-sermons-20110422-1drl4.html#ixzz1KUhD0KDj

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  1. royalrendezvousLisa

    Excellent letter. What about the patients who are told that they only have six months or a year to live who live for many years? This happened to my father. I am sure that he would have chosen the extra years.
    A more crucial point – if someone asked me for poison so that they could commit suicide and I gave it to them this would be aiding and abetting suicide. If a doctor gives someone an injection knowing that this will cause their death, it is even worse. Euthanasia is just a euphemism, as far as I am concerned.

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