Life Legal recently hosted a conversation about life and death between two of the nation’s most prominent faith leaders to discuss problems with assisted suicide laws. Pastor Rick Warren is the head Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, which attracts over 20,000 weekly attendees to its 18 campuses worldwide. Bishop Robert Barron serves as auxiliary archbishop to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which is the largest archdiocese in the United States with over 5 million professing members.
Pastor Warren talked about his son’s death by suicide in 2013 and how his personal tragedy helped shape his opposition to assisted suicide. “The fact is, we belong to God. Theologically, we are not our own… I didn’t choose when I came into the world and I don’t get to choose when I go out of the world. It’s appointed by God…It’s not a political issue for me; it’s a moral issue. And of course it’s a practical issue, having had a son who took his life by suicide. I care very deeply about this.”
Bishop Barron explained the philosophical underpinnings of Catholic theology and then called for Christians of all faith traditions to minister to those who are suffering with untreatable illness. “One way the Catholic tradition deals with this more philosophically is this idea of the inviolable dignity of the individual so that it’s intrinsic evil ever to take a human life from the moment of conception to natural death—meaning there’s no motive, there’s no circumstance, no consequence that would ever justify such a move…But it’s not just an abstract moral issue…It’s a summons to the Christian community now to engage in good ministry.”
Their conversation was moderated by author, attorney and radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt. Hewitt’s law partner, Stephen Larson, is co-counsel in Life Legal’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s End of Life Option Act. That case is currently being litigated in state court in Riverside, California. “We are grateful for the leadership of Bishop Barron and Pastor Warren in sounding the alarm about assisted suicide laws,” said Alexandra Snyder, Executive Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. “We have a moral and philosophical obligation to protect vulnerable human life by engaging in thoughtful and articulate opposition to assisted suicide—and by showing up to help those who are hurting.”
The conversation between Pastor Warren and Bishop Barren is available at lifelegaldefense.org.