OPPOSED: Bundaberg Parish Priest Peter Tonti disagrees with legalising euthanasia, supporting the views of his brother who died of terminal illness.
OPPOSED: Bundaberg Parish Priest Peter Tonti disagrees with legalising euthanasia, supporting the views of his brother who died of terminal illness. Chris Burns

Priest follows in brother's shoes in anti-euthanasia stance

BUNDABERG Parish Priest Peter Tonti said his deceased younger brother was an inspiration in speaking against euthanasia at a recent Queensland inquiry.

But he also spoke against a social movement preferring to destroy life rather than in preserving it.

By legalising euthanasia a society was decreasing the considered worth of a terminally ill person, Fr Tonti said.

His brother, Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, was a bioethicist and prominent anti-euthanasia advocate who wrote books on his views until he died from terminal illness almost five years ago.

Prof Tonti-Filippini died from several complications including from rheumatoid auto-immune disease and the subject of his death in November, 2014, was published by media.

At the inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care held in Bundaberg, Fr Tonti quoted his brother by reading, "facing illness and disability takes courage and we do not need those euthanasia advocates to tell us that we are so lacking dignity and have such a poor quality of life that our lives are not worth living."

Fr Tonti later told the NewsMail that having a terminal illness with the option to die was not necessarily the same as dying with dignity.

"I remember when Nicholas was in excruciating pain. He was just hoping someone was understanding he was in pain, which meant that you would have to go into the pain situation yourself.

"That's what he was asking. It's a bit of an ask but if you are really suffering you want people to know you're not faking it, it's absolutely real.

"In that sense it gives them dignity and hope."

He said there needed to be more funding for palliative care and for the support workers who were likely underpaid and under-appreciated.

"We seem to have reached in our society a sense of darkness that we want to destroy life, whether it be the unborn or the disabled or those vulnerable in the elderly and we don't seem to be spending too much effort in understanding that life is precious," Fr Tonti said.

"To me that's the darkness in our society that does that, a diminishing of a person."



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