by Steven Ertelt
November 13, 2004
The Vatican (LifeNews.com) — Pope John Paul II condemned euthanasia and commended Portugal for its pro-life laws on abortion. The Pope said the values embodied by the Western European nature give hope in a "grave crisis" of modern-day European values that attack the dignity of human life.
Portugal is one of the few European nations with a pro-life law prohibiting most abortions. That law prompted the Dutch abortion ship Borndiep to travel to the country in September in an attempt to get women to come aboard to have abortions or receive the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug.
The abortion boat was prohibited from docking and eventually returned to the Netherlands.
"The world continues to look to Portugal with hope, especially in terms of becoming aware of the grave crisis of values in modern society, ever more insecure in the face of fundamental ethical decisions for the future path of humanity,” the pope told visiting President Jorge Sampaio at the Vatican.
Meanwhile, in an address to a group of doctors, Pope John Paul II reiterated the church’s position against euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The Pope called euthanasia "one of those dramas caused by an ethic which seeks to establish who can live and who must die. [I]nstead of redeeming the person from suffering, [it] suppresses.”
He told the doctors that "medicine always places itself at the service of life."
"Even when it knows it cannot defeat a serious pathology, it dedicates its own capabilities to alleviating suffering," the Pope told the 600 medical professionals gathered for a conference on palliative care.
"To work with passion to help the patient in every situation means to be aware of the inalienable dignity of every human being, even those in the extreme conditions of a terminal state," the Pope, who suffers from debilitating Parkinson’s disease, said.
"Suffering, old age, the unconscious state, the imminence of death do not lessen the person’s intrinsic dignity, created in the image of God," the Pope concluded. "[T]rue compassion, on the contrary, promotes every reasonable effort to favor the patient’s healing."
Euthanasia is permitted in Belgium and the Netherlands and both countries are considering expanding the practice to include children.
England is also considering legalizing the grisly practice and Catholic leaders in Spain are preparing an educational effort to prevent it from being allowed there.
The Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care is sponsoring the conference, which concludes today.