ON New Year’s Day, Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Voluntary Assisted Dying laws will come into effect in the Sunshine State. Like her fixated Labor counterparts nationwide, the lately blonde Queensland Premier is at war with Catholicism. Going further than ultra zealot Daniel Andrews in Victoria – let that sink in – her legislation forces conscientiously objecting staff serving in private hospitals and nursing homes to refer-on VAD-desiring patients to more willing locums. The latter are authorised to walk into these havens of healing – seen by Christians as manifestations of sacred mission for at least 1700 years – and kill people. This isn’t a new humanitarianism but the revival of an old pagan mentality whose corollary – exterminationism – is inevitable.
Taunting the faithful and administrators with an ironic absurdity, the government maintains these break-and-enter executions will only be ‘necessary’ when patients are just “too sick to be moved.” The hangman will not to be cheated by natural causes – nor the state by ancient rights. That such extreme provisions were sold by the Queensland Law Reform Commission as a noble compromise between “a right to refuse to participate” and a “right to access a process that is lawful” exposes the nescience of what passes for a progressive intelligentsia in modern Australia. To the conscientious objector, referring-on a suicide to be remedied by a homicide does not ameliorate compunction. It makes him a Pontius Pilate at best or a Nuremberg lowlife at worst. More tragic than the invincible ignorance of heathens, however, is the casuistic mousiness of divines. Which brings us to the tepid ecclesiastical response to Palaszczuk’s maniacal démarche.
“We will not tolerate non credentialed doctors coming on site, nor will we assist in the provision of voluntary assisted dying in any of our facilities,” Francis Sullivan declared last August – by which time the government’s Stalinist intentions had already been unmistakably flagged. The Chairman of the Mater Group and one of Queensland’s most powerful Catholics, O’Sullivan is an adroit veteran of God vs. Caesar skirmishing but his intervention was less gladiatorial than it seems. “There is a practical solution and it will work for all sides of this debate,” he pleaded.
Except that for Catholics, only the solution proposed by the Franciscan saint of Auschwitz is respectable in murderous circumstances. The danger in ennobling crocodilian malice as a “side” that can be reasoned with is the one Churchill so famously warned about. Last week – a year after O’Sullivan’s one-man-out bravado – Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge realised Christian civilisation in Queensland would be eaten anyway. His handling of the politics, theology and advocacy surrounding corrupted medicine’s clash with religion – a Gordian knot, to be sure – has been flawed from the start.
One year after he prohibited conscientious objection as grounds for exemption from vaccination – “outweighed by legal obligations to civil law” – the Archbishop warned that patients who choose to be killed would be denied the last rites (which have never been afforded to the wilfully incorrigible in 2000 years). The earlier diktat was premised on the falsehood that only vaccinated priests could safely travel about ministering to congregants. More embarrassingly, it utterly contradicted his call two months earlier for a “blanket conscientious objection” clause in the emerging VAD legislation. Orthodoxy – like cake – cannot be had and eaten too like this without the hyenas of politics and the fragile of faith noticing. For his latest decree – on deathbed protocols – Coleridge was set upon by atheist Andrew Denton and a little troupe of like-minded mopes. The Prince Harry of Australian euthanasia, the whining Denton has been able to parlay his father’s quick and unremarkable death into a nationally retailed catharsis only because everybody is too polite to tell him to move on. In the age of Daniel Mannix and Fulton Sheen – let alone of Chesterton and Belloc – such a flyweight would be dispatched effortlessly if noticed at all.
This, however, is an age of enfeeblement wherein the barbarians are birdbrained but frenzied and the Christians baptised but snoring. Those in the Church who are enthusiastic seem less eager to convert the world than they are to yield to it. Scrambling to invent rubrics for a voluntarily assisted death in a Catholic hospital (by definition, compulsory), Archbishop Coleridge’s Liturgy Director, Dr Tom Elich – one of the foremost architects of the Novus Ordo in Australia – is advising pastors to “physically leave the room” during administration of poison, returning to the patient’s side while the “lethal dose” takes effect. In the absence of at least a stated intention to defy the law and block bounty hunters from entering a consecrated redoubt, this would constitute endorsement of a moral crime. Maximilian Kolbe did not “leave the room.” Otto Günsche did.