Capitol Alert

Catholic officials find inspiration for assisted death opposition in Pope’s encyclical

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, center, Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto, left, and Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire discuss environmental issues during a press conference at the Capitol on August 31, 2015.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, center, Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto, left, and Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire discuss environmental issues during a press conference at the Capitol on August 31, 2015. rpench@sacbee.com

With his priority climate legislation on the ropes in the Assembly, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León has repeatedly pointed to the recent papal encyclical as a cause for action.

Before a closed-door forum at the Capitol Monday, Catholic officials there to discuss the document and lobby waffling lawmakers to support Senate Bill 350 said they also saw in the Pope’s words further cause to oppose controversial assisted death legislation that has cropped up again in a special legislative session on health.

“The Pope has several paragraphs on how me must use the same principles in developing ethics in regards to protecting disappearing species of the Earth, use those same principles in regards to human life, to the unborn, to those who are in the process of dying,” Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire said.

Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto said reintroducing aid-in-dying legislation during the special health session distracts from the needs of the weak and vulnerable. (Video by Alexei Koseff)

The Catholic Church has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the assisted death proposal, which would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients, arguing that it devalues life. The original measure stalled in the Assembly last month, but the authors revived it in a special session called to address shortcomings in health care funding.

Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto said the assisted death push was distracting from the session’s focus of raising new revenues for Medi-Cal.

“We’re not giving the weak and the vulnerable the attention they deserve,” he said. “Their interests are being marginalized.”

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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