Physician-assisted suicide and the sacraments

Reflecting on our faith

While Church theology can be sophisticated, it also transmits some simple truths: Human life has been created by God. It is sacred. Our journey through this world has meaning and value. Prop 106 represents neither a medical advancement nor a moral good. The Catholic Church’s profound and timeless view of human life has never been more relevant or necessary than it is today.

“It is necessary to state firmly once more that nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action. For it is a question of the violation of the divine law, an offense against the dignity of the human person, a crime against life, and an attack on humanity.” Excerpt from the Declaration on Euthanasia, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 5, 1980


Pope Francis has spoken about this issue very recently:

“A society truly welcomes life when it recognizes that it is also precious in old age, in disability, in serious illness and even when it is fading; when it teaches that the call to human fulfillment does not exclude suffering; indeed, when it teaches its members to see in the sick and suffering a gift for the entire community, a presence that summons them to solidarity and responsibility.” “Palliative care is an expression of the truly human attitude of taking care of one another, especially of those who suffer. It is a testimony that the human person is always precious, even if marked by illness and old age. Indeed, the person, under any circumstances, is an asset to him/herself and to others and is loved by God.”Excerpts from Pope Francis’ addresses to the Pontifical Academy for Life, 2014 & 2015

ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR: Pope John Paul II waves to the wellwisher 28 April 1989 upon his arrival in Antanarivo at the beginning of a 10-day Africa tour. The pontiff visited Madagascar, La RTunion, Zambia and Malawi from 28 April to 06 May. It was his 41st International Pastoral visit. (Photo credit should read DERRICK CEYRAC/AFP/Getty Images)

Toward the end of his own life Saint John Paul II was a living witness to the meaning of suffering. Here is one of the many beautiful reflections he offered:

“But in general it can be said that almost always the individual enters suffering with a typically human protest and with the question ‘why’. He asks the meaning of his suffering and seeks an answer to this question on the human level. Certainly he often puts this question to God, and to Christ. Furthermore, he cannot help noticing that the one to whom he puts the question is himself suffering and wishes to answer him from the Cross, from the heart of his own suffering. Nevertheless, it often takes time, even a long time, for this answer to begin to be interiorly perceived. For Christ does not answer directly and he does not answer in the abstract this human questioning about the meaning of suffering. Man hears Christ’s saving answer as he himself gradually becomes a sharer in the sufferings of Christ.” Excerpt from On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, St. John Paul II