The Vatican’s Strong Take on Euthanasia
Vatican–On Tuesday, the Vatican published documents condemning euthanasia, or the direct killing of a patient by medical personnel, describing it as an “act of homicide” without justification under any terms. The document, entitled, “The Good Samaritan,” refers to euthanasia as an “intrinsically evil act” regardless of circumstance. The Vatican stated to partake in assisted suicide in any fashion, “is to take the place of God in deciding the moment of death.” The authors of the release claim euthanasia is a crime and go as far as to state that allows or advocate for assisted suicide and euthanasia are “accomplices of a grave sin that others will execute.” The Vatican’s doctrinal offices released the seventeen-page document restating the Catholic Church’s firm stance on euthanasia and assisted suicide at a time when a number of Catholic countries are reviewing laws to potentially legalize the controversial topic.
Today, some level of euthanasia is permitted in nine US states and Washington DC. Additionally assisted suicide is legal in a handful of European nations, such as Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Joining these countries, the state of Western Australia, and in the Australian state of Victoria and Canada, citizens with physical and with mental illnesses, the terminally ill and disabled have the option to be assisted by healthcare professionals in facilitating euthanasia and assisted suicide. In November, citizens of New Zealand will vote on a euthanasia referendum. Just this past week, a private member’s bill to legalize euthanasia was introduced into parliament in Ireland. Meanwhile, presently, Catholic nations like Spain and Portugal are grappling with considering laws that would legalize euthanasia.
Seen as a transgression against holy law, the Catholic Church has consistently stood in opposition to all forms of euthanasia. Recent Popes have strongly expressed their sentiments on the subject as well. Sixteen years ago, Pope Benedict wrote, “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” Pope Francis has publicly condemned assisted suicide, urging physicians to resist performing any similar services. Additionally, Pope Francis has referred to both euthanasia and abortion as proof of society’s current “throwaway culture,” in which human beings decide who is or isn’t worthy of life. Building from the message of the past, the week’s release from the Vatican invites medical personnel, family and friends to instead join their ill loved ones in their pain and anguish in an expression of love and sacrifice, forfeiting individualism. However, it is worth noting that the Vatican supported hospice centers and palliative care, including deep sedation for pain reproduction. Will public reaction and broad societal changes ever possibly sway the strong stance of the Church?
The Vatican was unavailable for comment.
Image Credit: Remo Casilli, Reuters
- “Bioethicists welcome Vatican document on euthanasia: ‘No life is unworthy of life’”
- “The Good Samaritan: Re-affirming the Gospel of Life”
- “Vatican strongly condemns euthanasia, calling it an ‘act of homicide’”
- “Vatican: Assisted suicide, euthanasia ‘intrinsically evil’”
Erin Mayer has been published in numerous publications. When she is not reporting, writing, studying or protesting, she is gardening, traveling, or at the beach with loved ones.