Archbishop Paglia says priests can be present at assisted suicide
Vatican City, Dec 11, 2019 / 04:08 pm (CNA) – Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said Tuesday that he would be willing to hold the hand of someone dying from assisted suicide, and that he does not see that as lending implicit support for the practice.
Paglia spoke at a Dec. 10 press conference preceding a two-day symposium on palliative care, being sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the WISH initiative, part of the Qatar Foundation.
Answering a question about assisted suicide and whether a Catholic or a Catholic priest can be present at someone’s death by assisted suicide, Paglia told a small group of journalists that he would be willing to do so, because “the Lord never abandons anyone.”
“In this sense, to accompany, to hold the hand of someone who is dying, is, I think a great duty every believer should promote,” he said, adding that believers should also provide a contrast to the culture of assisted suicide.
“I believe from our perspective, no one can be abandoned, even if we are against assisted suicide because we do not want to do death’s dirty work,” he said.
Last week, the Swiss bishops released guidance on pastoral care regarding assisted suicide. The document said pastoral caregivers should not be present during a person’s death by assisted suicide.
Asked his thoughts on directives such as these, Paglia responded, “Let go of the rules. I believe that no one should be abandoned.”
“I would like to remove the ideology from this situation,” he said.
Paglia added that it is a “cruel society” which tries to justify assisted suicide, or which abandons those not deemed “good” enough.
Suicide is a “great defeat” for society and can never be transformed it into “a wise choice,” he said.
In addition to discussions on assisted suicide, the Dec. 11-12 Vatican conference will include presentations by representatives of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism on the topic of medical ethics, the mental health of the elderly, and interreligious cooperation to incorporate spirituality into palliative care.
Did this Archbishop just say that he would support someone who has chosen assisted suicide even though this is goes against the teachings of the church?! He says ‘let go of the rules’ and he is the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life! If he ain’t following the rules then who is?! What other rukes does he think are worth ignoring ?
I thank Archbishop Paglia for his thoughts on this sensitive matter. In my opinion he is showing the care of Christ.
There was usually a priest present at a hanging or a firing squad; military or otherwise. I am not aware that a priests has attended at an abortion apart from those few who have prayed outside abortion clinics, but that would be different because that’s ‘at a distance’. In any event, the immediate victims in the above mentioned circumstances were not volunteering for the procedure. The notion of assisted suicide is a new one.
A priest was usually present at a hanging or a firing squad; military or otherwise. I’m not sure that a priest has ever been present at an abortion apart from those who pray outside the clinic; but that’s ‘from afar.’ Assisted suicide is a little different. The victims in the above mentioned circumstances do not volunteer for the procedure as does the victim in an assisted suicide, or indeed, in a suicide.
It is mind boggling that a Catholic Archbishop should support a priest being present at an assisted suicide. By electing to suicide a person deliberately puts him/her self outside the natural law and belief in God’s love.
The presence of a priest can only lend support to those who wish to break down respect for the sanctity of life.
The priest would do more good by praying for the soul of the person than holding their hand.
There used to be an “old fashioned” concept of “giving scandal”. It has almost disappeared and you would be hard-pressed to come across it today but that is the principal reason I would oppose the views of Archbishop Paglia in giving the impression of endorsing assisted suicide.
Through campaigning, including appearing as a witness before a Parliamentary Inquiry, I believe I have a fairly good grasp of public opinion on the subject and I anticipate that the proponents of assisted suicide and euthanasia would seize on any such actions to muddy the ground in which we are struggling.
The combined subject area of suicide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide, requires a major educational effort, particularly among Catholics. I recall attending a Diocesan Assembly not so many years ago and during the lunch break asking attendees to sign a petition against euthanasia. Many people recoiled and said “No, I won’t do that, I might need it when I am dying”. What did they think they needed?
I believe that the Australian Bishops should have stood their ground in the recent public debate, in opposing the wording chosen by our opponents (viz “Voluntary Assisted Dying”, VAD) right from the start but in some cases they repeated it and offered no challenge.
At the same time uncharitable attitudes about people who take their life in what I might call “unassisted suicide” need to be revised.
I am not a great proponent of personal interpretation.
Even so, disregarding what appears to be a clear message in the Gospel, viz. ‘Doubt not, but believe’, not to mention an explicit instruction to the 72 to shake the dust of villages/towns, where the message was not welcomed, from their feet, seems to demand an interpretation of some ingenuity, if the Archbishop’s teaching that one instead should stick around, is to be persuasive.
To combine two responses above, one can well pray for those tempted by contemporary endorsement of privileged forms of self-harm, without having to risk the scandal of appearing to endorse their intentions. I imagine there would be few present who were not supportive of the likely, indeed the intended, outcome and the media are not to be looked to for subtle distinctions, much less detailed and accurate discussion of Church teaching.
I am wondering why they call it ‘assisted suicide’. Apart from giving consent, the victim plays no part in it. In normal circumstances, consent would not be construed as an attempt. The Archbishop, by his silence, obviously agrees with Ab Paglia so I suppose that’s the end of the matter. Nevertheless, it is a departure from Catholic Tradition.
Unlike Archbishop Paglia, the thought of holding the hand of someone while somebody else kills them, doesn’t sit well with me. I wonder would the Mother of the Lord do it. I don’t know but I suspect not. What do you think?
Brenden, well said! It does sit well with meeither. I write as a person who has attempted suicide! Please imagine standing with me on the ledge of a high bridge as I prepare to jump to my death. Imagine holding my hand! Come on. Do a reality check. Poor Archbishop Paglia has never stood with a person about to suicide. I am grateful for the person who grasped me in his arms and said, “Don’t jump!” I thank god for that person who saved my life and gave me the chance to live!
There is genuine confusion over this issue. Catholics are not on the same page. To who do we turn for guidance?
It is a strange fact that although we believe in eternal life, some of us including St John Paul II go to extreme steps to hang onto our temporal one. Equally, there may be other instances of people seeking an early release, but I imagine without any knowledge that they don’t in the main have any conviction of eternal life.
It introduces side issues of the ‘good’ man in contemporary society who might not see eternal life as an objective, does not know God let alone love Him, and yet believes that he will be OK.
Archbishop Paglia’s stance is confronting, on one hand charitable, on the other confusing to the faithful.
When I made my Will, I made the fact very clear that when I am dying there is no way I would accept euthanasia, no matter how sick I may be. I see the best move if there is any likelihood of me dying in hospital, would be to go to either Calvary or John James. both owned by The Little Company of Mary. There would possibly be more access to Last Rights.
Fr Mick Mac Andrew, Cooma.
What would Jesus do? It will surely happen that one day priests will be asked to give the Last Rites to someone who will be euthanized soon after. As we do with those who commit suicide, we act in mercy and let God be the judge.