by Steven Ertelt
February 25, 2008
The Vatican (LifeNews.com) — Pope Benedict XVI addressed a conference on Monday and urged doctors and other medical professionals to resist getting involved in euthanasia or assisted suicide. He said the grisly practices fail to respect the dignity of people who are disabled, elderly or incurably ill.
The speech came in an address to members of the Pontifical Academy for Life as the group began a two day conference on end of life issues.
The Catholic leader reaffirmed the Church’s strong teachings against assisted suicide and euthanasia saying Catholics should have a "firm and consistent ethical condemnation for all forms of direct euthanasia."
He said "all of society, through its medical and civil institutions, is called to respect life and the dignity of the gravely ill and dying person."
Pope Benedict also called for "death leave" — whereby companies allow workers a chance to spend time with a loved one who is dying in the same way maternity leave is granted.
He said "similar rights should be accorded to close family members at the moment the illness of their loved ones is at a terminal phase."
"A united and humanitarian society cannot help but keep in mind the difficult conditions of families that, sometimes for long periods, must bear the burden of carrying out household tasks for gravely ill persons who are not self-sufficient," he said.
He called on society to support families caring for the sick, arguing "a humane and interdependent society" could not do otherwise.
"A greater respect of individual human lives inevitably comes from real interdependence of everyone," the pontiff said, saying helping the dying was one of the greatest needs at the current time.
Pope Benedict also called on people to do more to reach out to the sick and elderly, so they don’t feel they are a burden to society and feel pressure to end their lives.
Especially in larger cities, "there are elderly persons who are alone, even at the time of grave illness and when near death."
"In such situations, the pressure of euthanasia becomes strong, above all when a utilitarian vision of the person is insinuated," he said.