The return of the archbishop

Horrible man, the archbishop of Canterbury – cruel, callous, ruthless, tyrannical. He doesn’t think so of course, but he is. He’s again sticking his oar in to prevent suffering people from ending their own lives.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, and Sir Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, have come together for the first time to urge peers to reject proposals that would allow families to help loved ones to die abroad free from the threat of prosecution.

Why? No reason – just to show off the superior devoutness of devout people by straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

It would surely put vulnerable people at serious risk, especially sick people who are anxious about the burden their illness may be placing on others. Moreover, our hospice movement, an almost unique gift of this country to wider humankind, is the profound and tangible sign of another and better way to cope with the challenges faced by those who are terminally ill, by their loved ones and by those who care for them.

Notice the conditonal tense about imagined vulnerable people while the real, non-conditional, known people who have horrible diseases and don’t want to experience the last, worst days of those diseases go unmentioned. Notice how brutally callous that is. Notice the soothing irrelevant claptrap about hospices. If people prefer hospices, they will go to hospices! But some people will find their condition unendurable in a hospice or anywhere, and want to escape instead. It should not be up to the archbishop of Canterbury to decide whether they can do that or not. He’s not their daddy, and it’s none of his business.

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