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BC bishops warn Catholics against 'sin' of legal cannabis use

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DH Vancouver Staff Dec 06, 2018 2:17 pm 1,665

While recreational cannabis use may now be legal in Canada, the “mere fact that an activity is made legal by the government does not automatically mean that it is morally acceptable.”

That’s the latest word from a collective of BC Catholic bishops, who issued an open letter recently, warning that in the Catholic tradition, “the recreational use of a substance merely for its intoxicating effects, rather than therapeutically, is not permitted.”

That being said, the bishops do concede that there are different reasons for using cannabis. Some of these uses are acceptable, while others are not.

“The various drug compounds in cannabis can have legitimate therapeutic uses,” the letter reads. “For instance, they may be used as an alternative to other drugs for controlling pain or nausea. When properly dispensed for therapeutic purposes, cannabis use is acceptable.”

This, they explain, “is no different than the use of any other medicine that helps promote health and wellbeing.”

However, if, “on the other hand, the use of cannabis is purely recreational and not for therapeutic reasons, then such use is contrary to Catholic moral teaching and deliberate intoxication is wrong for several reasons.”

Another concern, they add, is that the use of cannabis artificially alters consciousness, “which can be a way of avoiding challenges that we are facing in our lives.”

Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the letter writers explain that “the use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is morally wrong”

As a result, they conclude, “those who knowingly engage in this behaviour should discuss this with a priest in Confession.”

The letter is signed by:

  • J. Michael Miller, CSB– Archbishop of Vancouver
  • Gary Gordon – Bishop of Victoria
  • Greg Bittman – Bishop of Nelson
  • Ken Nowakowski – Bishop of New Westminster (Ukrainian)
  • Stephen Jensen – Bishop of Prince George
  • Joseph Phuong Nguyen – Bishop of Kamloops
  • Hector Vila – Bishop of Whitehorse
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DH Vancouver Staff
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