Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

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Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Washington State Knights of Columbus issue resolution opposing assisted suicide initiative

the Inland Register

(From the June 12, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

The Washington State Council of the Knights of Columbus stood firm in their stand against the assisted suicide initiative at their 105th State Convention, May 16-18 in Spokane.

The Knights unanimously passed a resolution against Initiative 1000, pledging their full support and personal resources to educate citizens in calling the initiative what it truly is: assisted suicide.

Resolution No. 12 reads:

Whereas, A physician assisted suicide initiative presented and falsely marketed as “death with dignity” is on the Washington initiative agenda; and

Whereas, Health care professionals of every kind and discipline are meant for healing and not the taking of human life; and

Whereas, The assisted suicide initiative would, if passed, legally allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication so certain patients can use it to commit suicide; and

Whereas, The law would run counter to the teachings of the Catholic Church by allowing a form of sanctioned euthanasia that would diminish respect and true dignity for human life; and

Whereas, Our State Chaplain, Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla, S.J., Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett of Seattle, and Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane have asked that the Knights of Columbus take the lead in helping to protect human life by joining the effort to defeat the physician assisted suicide initiative through their financial contributions and leadership role in educating people; and

Whereas, Our State Deputy, John L. Walker, has issued a call to action, “It is the time to walk the talk, to back up our words,” for financial assistance from subordinate councils of the Washington jurisdiction as soon as possible to put forth an amount sufficient for the campaign against the initiative for physician assisted suicide; then therefore be it

Resolved, That the Washington State Council and subordinate councils vehemently oppose the physician assisted suicide initiative and all the forms of the taking of human life; and be it

Further Resolved, That the members of the Washington State Council are encouraged to contribute individual and council funds to inform the citizens of Washington State of the harm physician assisted suicide will bring to the elderly and all forms of human life, and that all Knights and their families contact their elected Washington State legislators urging them to take a leadership role against physician assisted suicide and to vote against any and all such measures accepting only policies and initiatives that protect human life in every form from conception to natural death.

“People in need of a helping hand commit suicide every day, and we, as fellow citizens, all have an obligation to help them resolve their personal crisis instead of assisting them in carrying out the desperate act of suicide,” said George Czerwonka, the Knights State Advocate. “So why do we need a law to put the burden of taking their life on our physicians and other health care professionals? Any law that allows physicians to terminate the lives of their patients is very unwise and runs counter to thousands of years of human civilization. When ill people learn the true details about assisted suicide and that no record will be kept of their decision, they too will come to oppose the taking of their own life. Death is a natural process of life and there is no reasonable explanation for such taking of life when someone is suffering psychological distress.”

The Knights went on to say that Initiative 1000 is nothing more than an assisted suicide proposal being falsely marketed by its proponents as “death with dignity.”

One of the initiative’s major backers is former Washington Gov. Booth Gardner.

“There can be no dignity in taking the life of an ill, disabled or elderly person,” said Czerwonka. Of the 25 states that have tried to enact assisted suicide, only Oregon has succeeded.

“Where do Oregon and these proponents plan to go next – euthanasia? If true to their course as is now being done in Europe, they will go beyond assisted and begin taking human life without consent,” Czerwonka said. “Maybe we will begin to account for our ill, disabled and elderly like we do with our pets that become too old or too ill to manage their daily life activities.

Besides the Knights, a broad coalition is forming in opposition to Initiative 1000, including medical personnel, the disabled, hospice workers, religious groups, and others. The initiative “is an issue that runs counter to our civilization. The religious groups are present in their opposition as are people across the full spectrum of society,” Czerwonka said.

The Knights have pledged their time, talent and resources to defeat this measure by educating neighbors and all citizens of Washington for what this measure truly is and the harm it will only bring to all. Membership in the Order symbolizes an individual’s commitment to his faith as a practicing Catholic, his profound love for his country, and his steadfast dedication to serving his community. There is no greater charity than lending a helping hand to save the life of another.

(For more information about the Knights of Columbus and their activities, visit their web site:

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