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Cardinal speaks out against assisted suicide at Red Mass


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SOUTH END -- Addressing members of the legal profession at the annual Red Mass Sept. 18, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley spoke out against a recently certified initiative petition seeking to legalize physician assisted suicide in Massachusetts.

"It's another attempt to undermine the sacredness of human life. It demands an energetic response from Catholics and other citizens of good will," said Cardinal O'Malley during his homily at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

The Red Mass -- a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages -- is held to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit in guiding members of the legal profession before the beginning of the judicial year. The Mass takes its name from the red vestments traditionally worn by clergy to represent the Holy Spirit.

On Sept. 7, Attorney General Martha Coakley certified an initiative petition supporting the so-called "Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act." The initiative, if passed into law, would allow a terminally-ill adult to end their life by receiving lethal drugs from their physician, which they would self-administer.

If the petition receives around 69,000 signatures of registered voters, it would pass a major milestone on making its way to the fall 2012 ballot.

Though the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's Catholic bishops, has issued statements on the ballot initiative petition, this was the cardinal's first public comment on the issue.

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