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A sermon 75 years ago this month which is relevant for us today.

75 years ago on August 3rd 1941 Cardinal Clemens von Galen, the Bishop of Munster in Germany, preached on the text “Jesus wept”, against Nazi euthanasia of the disabled.
By 1939 the Reich had compulsorily sterilised 350,000 people and begun the elimination of what it called“useless eaters”, people possessing “life unworthy of life” .
Cardinal von Galen said “This ghastly doctrine tries to justify the murder of blameless men and would seek to give legal sanction to the forcible killing of invalids, cripples, the incurable and the incapacitated……

The opinion is that since they can no longer make money, they are obsolete machines, comparable with some old cow that can no longer give milk or some horse that has gone lame…..

Here we are dealing with human beings, with our neighbours, brothers and sisters, the poor and invalids … unproductive — perhaps! But have they, therefore, lost the right to live? Have you or I the right to exist only because we are ‘productive’? If the principle is established that unproductive human beings may be killed, then God help all those invalids who, in order to produce wealth, have given their all and sacrificed their strength of body. If all unproductive people may thus be violently eliminated, then woe betide our brave soldiers who return home, wounded, maimed or sick.

Once we admit the right to kill unproductive persons … then none of us can be sure of his life. We shall be at the mercy of any committee that can put a man on the list of unproductives. There will be no police protection, no court to avenge the murder and inflict punishment upon the murderer. Who can have confidence in any doctor? He has but to certify his patients as unproductive and he receives the command to kill.

If this dreadful doctrine is permitted and practiced it is impossible to conjure up the degradation to which it will lead.”

Martin Borman called for him to be executed for saying this.

Recently in Japan a man killed 19 disabled people in a care home, specifically because he thought the disabled should not be allowed to go on living. Although this extreme violence was an isolated instance, there are very many who feel that such lives cannot be worth living and cost the rest of society too much. A disabled American said “The hate crime in Japan graphically and horrifically demonstrates that people with a disability are prone to being the victims of violence.”

There is often an unpleasant subtext of this in apparently well-meaning attempts to relax the laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide in our country and world-wide.