Saturday, June 4, 2016
WHAT DOES THE CHURCH SAY IN REGARD TO EUTHANASIA?
Euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based on the natural law and the written Word of God; it is transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. Euthanasia involves, according to circumstances, the malice inherent to suicide or homicide.
That said, both suicide and homicide are always morally unacceptable. The tradition of the Church has always rejected them and deemed them as seriously grave decisions. From an objective point of view, suicide is a severely immoral act, because it implies rejection towards self-love. It also rejects all the duties of justice and charity we have towards others, as well as the different congregations one belongs to and society in general. Euthanasia, at its deeper level, constitutes a rejection of God’s absolute sovereignty over life and death, proclaimed in the prayer of the ancient sage of Israel: “For you have dominion over life and death; you lead down to the gates of Hades and lead back.” (Wis. 13, 16).
Sharing the suicidal intentions of others and partaking in carrying them out by so-called “assisted suicide” means becoming a collaborator and sometimes even perpetrator of an injustice that is never justified, not even when it has been requested. Saint Augustine writes about it in a way that is surprisingly relevant today: "it is never licit to kill another: even if he should wish it, indeed if he request it because, hanging between life and death, he begs for help in freeing the soul struggling against the bonds of the body and longing to be released; nor is it licit even when a sick person is no longer able to live". Euthanasia, even if it is not motivated by the selfish desire of taking care of the existence of the sufferer, must always be regarded as false piety, indeed, as a perversion of piety. True compassion renders us supportive towards others’ pain, and it does not eliminate the person whose suffering is impossible to withstand. The practice of euthanasia becomes even more wicked when it is carried out by those (such as relatives) responsible for assisting the sufferer patiently and lovingly, or by those who due to their particular occupation should take care of the sick person, even during the most painful and difficult terminal situations.
Certainly, there is a moral obligation to healing ourselves and/or seeking treatment to achieve healing, but this obligation must be assessed according to the specific scenario, that is to say, analyzing if the treatments available are objectively proportioned with prospects of improvement. Renouncing to extraordinary or disproportionate means is not the same as euthanasia or suicide; rather it expresses total acceptance of the human condition before death.
Text of the encyclical Evangelium Vita
IMPORTANT REMARKS OF CATHOLICITY: At the moment the term “passive euthanasia” has gained popularity to indicate the philosophy of palliative medicine, which implies the non-use of intensive therapeutic treatments. We believe that it is not advisable to use this term as it might be thought that “passive” is similar to “active” (which is the suicide of the terminally ill patients or the homicidal decision of their relatives to kill them), and this could lead from the acceptance of the first to the subsequent approval of the second.
Another aspect that is under-analyzed is that, if euthanasia were to be approved, the life of the sufferers may be left in the hands of selfish relatives who could deem more convenient to eliminate the ill by “legally” killing them, so to avoid having to take care of the patient or to prevent expenses, or maybe even to receive an inheritance sooner. Thus, a patient kept incommunicado would be subject to other people’s decisions (relatives, doctors or public hospitals and clinics that wish to avoid expenses). If euthanasia is adopted it will not have clear limits, rather, sooner or later, it will be used against the will of the sufferer to be able to kill him, taking care of the legal formalities of the case. How many crimes will be perpetrated, even of non-terminal patients, under the “merciful” cover-up of euthanasia as an alibi and a justification?
That is why Dr. Beatriz A. Lima makes the following statement: “After so many efforts made for developing and defending a legal system that protects all the rights of the person, after so many fights in favor of man and his liberty, losing the battle would be unforgivable, because in addition to impairing human dignity, euthanasia creates a terribly frightful distrust. It destroys social solidarity, trust between doctor and patient and solidarity among the family. It destroys everything that should be an environment of humanization. It is clear that no one can favor suffering, pain or extending the agony with the so-called dysthanasia, but choosing death for oneself or others, without taking into consideration all the treatments, medicines and spiritual assistance available, implies an easy, fast and rushed exit. It means giving up, it is a form of intolerance against the feeble, regardless of how noble and altruistic reasons we may be given. It is similar to the siren call.”
To sum up: We are only the depositories of our lives, NOT owners. Life is the most precious gift of God. Only He can decide when it is our time to enter in eternal life. We must render account to God of this invaluable gift He has given to us. The human being must not misuse or abuse it, nor end it in the time and manner he chooses to do it.