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ss triple helix - winter 2014,  At the end of the day

At the end of the day

Church of England perspectives on end of life issues
Brendan McCarthy, Mia Hilborn, Mike Hill, James Newcome
  • Church House Publishing, 2014, £12.99, Pb 116pp. ISBN 9780715144534
  • Reviewed by Andrew Fergusson, Care Not Killing Alliance

This is an excellent review of the approach Christians should take when considering ethical and pastoral issues at the end of life.

Brendan McCarthy's introduction starts with core beliefs, from which guiding principles are derived, and these lead to particular policies and practices. Those who don't necessarily hold our core beliefs should nevertheless support most of these guiding principles and their consequences. Core Christian beliefs are: God as life-giver, Trinity, incarnate, redeemer; and concern for justice and community. These lead, in order of priority, to affirming life, caring for the vulnerable, building a cohesive and compassionate community, and respecting individual freedom. Note that autonomy comes last!

Bishop Mike Hill applies this framework to opposing physician-assisted suicide. James Newcome, current lead bishop in the Lords for health issues, follows with a comprehensive review of organ donation, emphasising the importance of gift; and Mia Hilborn, who chairs the Chaplaincy Leadership Forum, describes the end of life roles and responsibilities of the church in NHS healthcare.

What a pity George Carey and Desmond Tutu hadn't taken these truths on board before their recent misjudged pronouncements supporting assisted suicide.

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