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No Viaticum for people using voluntary assisted dying, says Archbishop of Brisbane

16 December 2022

Alamy

The Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr Mark Coleridge, pictured in Rome in 2019

The Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr Mark Coleridge, pictured in Rome in 2019

THE Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr Mark Coleridge, has said that people using voluntary assisted dying when it becomes lawful in Queensland next year would not be given the sacrament of Viaticum (holy communion for the dying). The concluding last-rites prayer for the dead could also be withheld, he said.

The churches were “walking a tightrope” to balance the moral and doctrinal questions with compassion for the dying, he said, and, while he did not wish to issue a fiat, it was possible that a person could be denied the entirety of the last rites.

Queensland will become the fourth Australian state to make voluntary assisted dying possible, following Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania. It will be introduced in South Australia and New South Wales next year. In each case, access to voluntary assisted dying is strictly limited. Until now, none of the churches has announced similar end-of-life sanctions.

Dr Coleridge has accused the Queensland government of being “impervious to genuine discussion”, saying that it had not been easy for him to have genuine conversations with senior government ministers.

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