Archbishop Richard Smith says he was “deeply disappointed” to learn of the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case, which struck down the legal ban on providing a doctor-assisted death to mentally competent but suffering and ``irremediable'' patients.

“We believe the current provisions in the Criminal Code prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia have served Canadians well, by protecting all persons, including those who are most vulnerable in our society,” Archbishop Richard Smith said today. “The law can only respect the inherent dignity of each Canadian life if it acknowledges that no one has the right to take action that would intentionally end another’s life.

“We know that requests to die are often made as a cry for an end to suffering, and this cry is impossible to ignore for those who witness the suffering. But the compassionate response must be to provide social, emotional and spiritual support, and the best pain management and palliative care possible.

“We are still reviewing the details of the Supreme Court ruling and its call for a change to Canadian law to allow assisted suicide. However, the ruling underlines the urgent need for improved access to palliative care for all Canadians, as outlined so well in the recent report of the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care.

“We look forward to the government’s response. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to work with their Members of Parliament to ensure that our health-care system offers the best and most accessible end-of-life care possible, so that each and every life is respected until its natural end.”