by Warwick d’Silva, Australian Family Association
In St Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday 29th September at 3pm, an Interfaith Prayer Service was held. This service was to pray for the parliamentarians debating the Voluntary Assisted Dying bill.
Proceedings commenced with a general welcome by Bishop Sproxton, Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Perth, welcoming those of other faiths and denomination to the Cathedral. Following the bishop’s welcome, there was a welcome to country by Donella Brown of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry. Donalla spoke passionately about the importance in aboriginal culture of accompanying the sick and dying, and how many Aboriginals are against this legislation, as it goes against their family culture and traditional values.
Fr Sean Fernandez, dean of the Cathedral, also welcomed those present and introduced the next speaker – Rabbi Sheryl Nosan-Lantzke from Jewish Spirituality Australia. The Rabbi Quoted Psalm 8:
“O Lord, our Lord, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him. Yet You have made him little less than the angels, and You have crowned him with Glory and honour; how excellent is Thy Name in all the earth! Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens.”
The Rabbi also sang a hymn, and prayed for the guidance of the politicians during the decision-making process.
The speaker to follow the Rabbi was Dr Doug Bridge, a palliative care specialist. Dr Bridge used his own testimony, describing how in having Parkinson’s disease, he sees how good care is given and should be done from firsthand experience. He also described how terminal patients receive good palliative care, with the holistic approach of looking after not only the patient’s physical but also mental health and well-being, giving patients a very high quality, good end-of-life experience.
The Cathedral provided an intermission of reflective music by the organist with The Lord is My Shepherd being sung by the Cantor.
After the intermission, the Little Sisters of the Poor spoke about their vocation to care for the aged and the dying. They explained that their mission was to follow in the footsteps of Jeanne Jugan, who cared for the sick, elderly and dying. They explained how before palliative care as we know it came into existence, the support the Sisters provided was the palliative care of the time. This care is still relevant today, and care performed with love and attention is the best way to care for a dying person. We need not resort to Euthanasia, but can access support services such as those provided by the Sisters and palliative care practitioners.
The Anglican Bishop of Perth, Kate Wilmot, then played a photo montage of the Human Journey. This reflected the gift of life, in all of its precious moments.
We then had Isabelle Lindsey speaking on behalf of the Catholic Youth in Perth, on the young people’s thoughts on the issue. She explained how a lot of the youth around her age do not agree with the proposal of voluntary assisted dying, and how many of them have several concerns around the issue. This was demonstrated by the large turnout, especially of young people, at the rally against euthanasia.
Iman Mohammed Shakeeb from the Perth Mosque then gave an impassioned speech on how “safeguards” will not be safe. He spoke of the slippery slope as experienced in other jurisdictions and warned that we will most certainly follow suit if euthanasia is legalised here. That is putting at risk the young, those with mental health issues that cannot make their own decisions, as well running the risk of elder abuse. He shed light on wrongful deaths that may occur if euthanasia is legalised in WA.
Following this, there was a final address by Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church and Chair of the Heads of Churches, WA. He led the final prayer from the pastors, and spoke of the concerns of many Christians about the legislation.
The candle ceremony was then held: those seated approached the altar and lit a candle to pray for the parliamentarians. Bishop Sproxton of Perth then led the final prayer for the parliamentarians and reiterated the importance of ongoing prayer.