Vatican archbishop would comfort during assisted suicide

A Vatican archbishop says he would “hold the hand” of someone dying from assisted suicide, even though he considers it wrong.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia says he would offer this comfort because “no one is abandoned” by the Church.

Paglia, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, explained his views during the presentation of an upcoming symposium on end-of-life issues the Academy is co-sponsoring.

The symposium on “Religion and Medical Ethics: Palliative care and the mental health of the elderly”, is being co-organized by the British Journal of Medicine and Qatar’s WISH foundation.

He was responding to a question about one bishops’ conference’s directive that a priest should not be in the room if euthanasia or assisted suicide is performed.

“I believe that from our perspective, no one is abandoned, even if we are against assisted suicide, because we don’t want to do death’s dirty job,” he said.

“To accompany, to hold the hand of someone who is dying, is something that every faithful must promote as they must promote a culture that opposes assisted suicide.”

Regardless of a willingness to accompany a person through such a decision, Catholics should continue to fight against a “selfish” society that labels the elderly, the terminally ill and others as “not good enough” and a surplus to the world, he said.

Pointing out that suicide – in whatever form – is a “defeat” for the rest of society, Paglia said: “We can never transform it into a wise decision”.

He also said he always celebrates the funerals for those who take their own lives.

In his opinion, suicide is “a great request for love that was not satisfied. This is why the Lord never abandons anyone.”

Paglia told reporters that even though they were looking “for a rule,” the principle of never abandoning anyone is not a matter of law for him.

“In this selfish society, we don’t need new laws. We need a love supplement, a co-responsibility supplement”.

“We are all necessary, with no one to spare. A society that runs towards a perspective of justifying suicide or leaving behind those who are not ‘good enough’ is a cruel one”.

“For me, a person who takes their own life shows a failure of society as a whole”.

“But it is not a failure from God. We are each children of God. Can a mother abandon her son?”

There’s no certainty that even the apostle Judas, who betrayed Jesus before killing himself, is in Hell, he said.

“For a Catholic to say so, it’s heresy.”


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