Euthanasia: 5 things you need to know

Euthanasia: 5 things you need to know

BY JOSEPH DOYLE

1. The dignity of the human person is intrinsic to all stages of human life
The Catholic Church believes in the inherent dignity of every human person at every stage of their life. The dignity of each human person is based on the fact that “in man there shines forth a reflection of God himself” (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 5 [1995]). Human dignity is, thus, not “dependent on our usefulness or our health, but simply on our humanity.” (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Real Care, Love and Compassion).

2. Euthanasia violates human dignity and human rights
The first and most basic human right is the right to life, “from conception to its natural end.” (Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine, 155). Because of this, all deliberate termination of innocent human life, “violates the integrity of the human person” and “insults human dignity.” (Gaudium et Spes, 27 [1965]).

3. The sick and elderly deserve to be treated with special respect
The underlying basis of medical and palliative care is that “those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect” (Catechism of the Catholic Church – CCC, 2276). Palliative care that deliberately causes the death of the patient allows the medical profession to become, “distorted and contradicted” (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 5 [1995]).

4. Discontinuing medical procedures is not necessarily euthanasia
Discontinuing extraordinary medical procedures that are “disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate.” (CCC, 2278). The cause of death must not come through active termination or the withholding of ordinary care but through natural means; as in this case “one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted.” (CCC, 2278).

5. We should not despair for the salvation of those who have taken their own lives
Various psychological and traumatic influences can “diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.” (CCC, 2282). As a result, the Church prays for those who have taken their own lives and believes that, when it comes to their salvation, “By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance.” (CCC, 2283).

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