What is the Catholic Position on Assisted Suicide?

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Did you know Physician-assisted suicide is legal in five US states? Although it may seem like a viable option if we think about the painful effects of the patient’s degenerative disease, it is not reason enough to consider ending a life.

The Church’s Perspective on Human Life

Assisted suicide, euthanasia or mercy killing is defined by the 1980 declaration from the Vatican as an action or omission which of itself or by intention causes death in order to eliminate suffering that could be caused by a degenerative disease.

When discussing subjects involving human life, we must first remember the church’s views on human life. First and foremost we must keep in mind that the church considers both human life and human dignity sacred.

Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.God created mankind in his image;in the image of God he created them;male and female* he created them.  Genesis 1:26-27

The Bible teaches us that we are all created in the image and likeness of God therefore anything that harms the life and dignity of an individual is considered an offense against God. Atrocious acts like murder, genocide, rape and abortion should be condemned as immoral and evil.

Second, as members of God’s family we are expected to live life according to God’s purpose and plan. We must be humble and open to accept the will of our Heavenly Father for our lives. These principles remind us that our life is God’s gift to us and that we must not take it for granted.

What the Church Says About Assisted Suicide

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30-31

One of the most common reasons why people consider assisted suicide is because they suffer from a degenerative disease. Some illnesses become so debilitating that people would rather choose to end their life and thus end their suffering.

The Catholic Church condemns assisted suicide as morally unacceptable regardless of the motives and means. First because assisted suicide goes against the core belief of Christianity that all human life is sacred. This principle applies not just to the lives of people who are healthy but also to the lives of people who are weak and ill.

Second, God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves so we have a moral and spiritual responsibility to look after our fellow men and women and more so if they are elderly, sick or dying. Assisted suicide goes against our natural inclination as human beings to preserve life. There is more than one solution to suffering than totally eliminating life and the chance of a person to survive. We must do all that we can to help the ill or physically challenged people to live life as normal as possible.

He said,“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,and naked shall I go back there.The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;blessed be the name of the LORD!”  Job 1:21

Last but not the least, although we do not wish to suffer and be in pain, these negative circumstances are an opportune time for us to grow in wisdom and faith. It may be difficult to accept but it is during times of great turmoil and tribulation that we can truly see the indescribable power of God.

Stewards of Life

Euthanasia - Degenerative Diseases - Catholic Faith Store

One of the things that make assisted suicide ungodly is that it empowers people to decide which kind of life is worth living and which one should be terminated. This central philosophy goes against the very foundation of our faith. Our faith teaches us to love our God and to surrender to His will.

Each one of us is responsible for the life that our Heavenly Father gave to us. We are stewards of this precious gift and must accept and live it gratefully. However, it is God who remains the sovereign master of life so we are not entitled to choose when and how to end it.

Life and death are both gifts from God. Death marks the end of our existence here on earth but in a spiritual perspective, it is the beginning of our new life in eternity. Our lives on earth is but a temporary journey that prepares us for our eternal life with our Father so we must do our best to live our journey in the most Christian way possible.

There are countless stories of men and women in the Bible whose lives were transformed after they underwent indescribable suffering. Their testimonies teach us that we must not underestimate the power of God to redeem us and offer us healing even from an incurable degenerative disease.

Prayers for the Sick and Dying

Prayer of the Elderly, Bl. Pope John Paul II, 1999 
Grant, O Lord of life, That we may savor every season of our lives as a gift filled with promise for the future. Grant that we may lovingly accept your will, and place ourselves each day in your merciful hands. And when the moment of our definitive “passage” comes, grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind. For in meeting you, after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known here on earth, in the company of all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and hope. Mary, Mother of pilgrim humanity, pray for us “now and at the hour of our death.” Keep us ever close to Jesus, your beloved Son and our bother, the Lord of life and glory. Amen! 

Prayer For Renewed Strength 

O Lord, my God, Please give me the grace to maintain my hope in you through all of life’s changes and to taste and see your goodness. I praise you for the gifts you have showered on me for so many years. Help me find joy in a renewed strength of spirit. Please bless me with good health, and inspire me to be a good example to others. For you are Lord, forever and ever. Amen. 

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Author: Stephen Connelly

Stephen was born in Ireland but now calls Massachusetts home. He is married and together they have four children. Stephen loves writing, especially on his favorite subject Catholicism, and we are extremely fortunate that he has chosen to write for the Catholic Faith Store.

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