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Archbishops Corner

2008-11-01

Pastoral Letter of the Archbishop On the issue of Euthanasia

My dear Priests, Religious and People of God,

In our country, the issue of Euthanasia (or Mercy Killing) has surfaced and making news in our local media. I am writing to categorically state that the Catholic Church condemns direct Euthanasia whether given voluntary or involuntary. You may want to refer to the article ‘Euthanasia’ published in the last issue of The CatholicNews. As early as 1980, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has already stated clearly:

Intentionally causing one’s death, or suicide, is equally as wrong as murder; such an action on the part of a person is to be considered as a rejection of God’s sovereignty and loving plan.

This teaching reiterates what was already taught in Gaudium et Spes which “condemned crimes against life such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful suicide”.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church n.2277 makes it clear that, “Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of the handicapped, sick or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.”

Choosing to end one’s life is suicide and the formal cooperation with the suicide of others is “assisted suicide”. Both are immoral. If suicide and assisting suicide are immoral, a fortiori taking the life of a person without their consent, even with the intention of relieving their suffering cannot be allowed under any circumstances.

One cannot choose death and asked to be killed. When they do this they are not only committing the crime of suicide but also compounding it by making another person a partner in a crime. One must not yield to another person’s request for euthanasia. To yield to such request is false compassion. To have true compassion for the person is to understand that such a person requesting for euthanasia is actually feeling lost, confused, hopeless and alienated. Mercy entails supporting such persons through care and friendship. Similarly no healthcare professionals must even contemplate the option of administering euthanasia. Generally, the medical profession must reject euthanasia as is evidenced by the Hippocratic Oath as well as by more recent codes of medical ethics such as The Geneva Declaration (WHO, 1957) and the Helsinki Statement (WHO, 1964).

I end this pastoral letter by quoting the words of Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae which says:

In communion with the bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, as transmitted by the Church’s tradition and taught by the ordinary and Universal Magisterium.

May the Holy Spirit who is the Giver of Life guide you to a deeper appreciation for the gift of life.

Yours devotedly in Christ,
Mgr Nicholas Chia

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