One of Scotland’s most senior Catholic clerics has spoken out against an attempt by right-to-die campaigner Margo MacDonald to legalise assisted suicide north of the border.
The Most Rev Mario Conti, Archbishop of Glasgow, said it was “wrong in principle” for someone to take their own life or for someone to help them do it.
The former Bishop of Aberdeen said there was already scope in the justice system to show mercy on people for helping someone to die.
The Catholic Church has vowed to use the courts to block Ms MacDonald’s End of Life Assistance Bill if it becomes law.
A special committee has been set up at Holyrood to consider the bill put forward by the Independent MSP, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Speaking at the annual Mass for healthcare workers, Elgin-born Archbishop Conti said: “There is room for compassion in the administration of justice, but it is truly said that hard cases make bad laws, and for that reason I am opposed to Margo MacDonald’s End of Life Assistance Bill.
“It is wrong in principle for someone to take their own life, it is wrong in principle for someone to help them to do so.
“Attempted suicide is no longer a criminal offence, assisted suicide should remain one. The law should not be changed, the good of society demands that it be not changed.
“Mercy can be shown in the administration of justice.”
If approved, the bill will would make Scotland the only part of the UK where it is not illegal to help someone to die.
Under Ms MacDonald’s proposals, anyone 16 and over could ask for help to die if they were diagnosed as terminally ill or permanently physically disabled and were finding life intolerable.
Last week the Scottish Parliament took the controversial decision to set up a special committee to consider Ms MacDonald’s bill.
She had wanted it taken on by the health and sport committee and had argued that members had the proper experience and competence to examine all the implications.
The bill has also run into opposition from the Church of Scotland and the British Medical Association.