The Vatican described euthanasia and assisted suicide as “intrinsically evil” Tuesday in a new document about people who are elderly or dying.
The document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith office, approved by Pope Francis, reiterates Catholic Church teachings about the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death, the AP reports.
“The Church is convinced of the necessity to reaffirm as definitive teaching that euthanasia is a crime against human life because, in this act, one chooses directly to cause the death of another innocent human being,” the document states.
Rejecting the claim that killing people through abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia is an acceptible solution, it urges society to support hospice, palliative care and pain management for people who are terminally ill as well as perinatal hospice for unborn babies diagnosed with fatal conditions.
The Vatican describes actively killing people as “intrinsically evil” and “a crime against human life,” according to the report.
“The judgment that an illness is incurable cannot mean that care has come at an end,” the document states. “Euthanasia, therefore, is an intrinsically evil act, in every situation or circumstance.”
It also condemns those who participate in the life-destroying practices for committing “homicide” and describes politicians who approve them as “accomplices of a grave sin.” And it encourages priests to dissuade people from assisted suicide or euthanasia.
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The Vatican document outlines a clear distinction between actively killing a person and stopping “extraordinary” medical care. While it emphasizes that all patients should receive “ordinary” care, including food and water, it adds that terminally ill patients or their families are not wrong if they decide to stop “extraordinary” medical care that does not benefit the patient, the report continues.
The new document also addresses abortion and unborn babies who are diagnosed with fatal illnesses. The AP reports the Vatican is encouraging society to expand perinatal hospice programs, which support families in crisis by providing medical and emotional care.
Perinatal hospice programs help “the parents to handle their grief and to regard this experience not just as a loss, but as a moment in the journey of love which they have traveled together with their child,” the document states.
The document addresses a problem that has been seeping steadily into society: the idea that killing people who are dying and unborn babies with special needs is somehow compassionate. Euthanasia is now legal in Canada and some parts of Europe, and assisted suicide is legal in eight U.S. states and Washington, D.C. But killing another human being never is compassionate. As the Vatican emphasized, people who are in pain and dying deserve physical and emotional support until the time of their death.