by Murray White MEMBERS of the hierarchy appeared to be divided this week in their reaction to the moral dilemmas thrown up by the case of coma patient Tony Bland.
A difference in tone among the bishops has been highlighted in special prayers for Lent last Sunday which centred on the moral dilemmas facing society in the wake of the Bland case.
Catholics in the Leeds diocese. which covers the region that includes the Airedale Hospital where Tony Bland is a patient. were asked by Bishop David Konstant to pray for the Hillsborough disaster victim and his family.
Bishop Konstant urged parishioners to be cautious before condemning the Bland family. He said in his Lenten letter: "There has been much grievous suffering for everyone involved in this case, but it is not for us to judge the personal morality of the decisions individuals have taken."
The bishop said that on the wider moral issues raised by the Bland case, the hierachy needed "more time, information and guidance to come to a clear understanding of the morality of such situations. It is a far more complex matter that I had first thought".
However, Bishop Joseph Gray of Shrewsbury, in his own Lenten message. questioned the morality of the decision by the Law Lords to allow doctors to stop feeding Tony Bland.
He said: "Who is to say whether the life of such a person has quality or not? To deprive an individual of life in such a way is always an offence against God.
"When human agencies or courts decree that an unconscious person is to be deprived of food and drink, which is the normal life-support for all of us, this is surely the slipway to Euthanasia," Bishop Gray warned.