Bishops ‘review’ blessing of assisted suicide advocate

Questions are being asked after a man received a formal Catholic blessing at Mass shortly before committing medically assisted suicide.

Robert Fuller, an HIV and cancer patient committed suicide on 10 May, five days after he was blessed at St Therese Parish in the Seattle archdiocese,

After the blessing, Fr Quentin Dupont led children who had just received their First Holy Communion to gather around Fuller.

Dupont, the children and members of the parish extended their hands in blessing over him.

An Associated Press (AP) journalist present at the Mass recorded and photographed the blessing ceremony.

The archdiocese, which was not aware of Fuller’s intentions, says the AP story “is of great concern to the Archbishops because it may cause confusion among Catholics and others who share our reverence for human life”.

A statement from the archdiocese outlines the way the events leading up to the blessing unfolded.

“That morning, Dupont was told .. Fuller was dying and wanted the blessing of the faith community. It wasn’t until later that parish leaders learned of his plans…”

The archdiocese says another priest, Father Maurice Mamba, then met Fuller “to discuss the sacred gift of human life and how we are called to respect and revere that gift as disciples of Jesus.”

The archdiocese is opening an investigation to find out what happened on and before Fuller’s blessing and is “reviewing the [reported] events … even though they took place several months ago.”

Although the archdiocese says parish leaders weren’t aware of Fuller’s intention to end his life, the AP reported Fuller’s plans were “widely known and accepted” among the parishioners at St Therese.

AP says Fuller, who was a long-standing assisted suicide advocate, attempted suicide in 1975 and claimed to have ended the life of a friend who had AIDS during the 1980s.

On May 10, Fuller injected lethal drugs, mixed with his favorite drink, into his feeding tube. Washington’s assisted suicide laws mandate that the patient self-administer the medication.

Before he died, Fuller partied with friends and family and was civilly married in a non-Catholic ceremony to his partner.

He died about nine and a half hours later.

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