Confronting the reality of euthanasia

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First of two parts

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THE July 14 dispatch of the Catholic Zenit.org carried an analysis titled “Confronting the Reality of Euthanasia” by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, who is the CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and a consultor to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Fr. Rosica’s analysis explains why the Church opposes euthanasia.

The article starts with an accusation against media: “The mainstream media has caused great confusion about the topic of euthanasia and has been extremely deceptive in its portrayal of human suffering and compassion. Most people who think that euthanasia and assisted suicide should be legal are not thinking the whole issue through. They are thinking about personal autonomy and choice. They think about what it would be like to suddenly become incapacitated and consider such a life as undignified or worthless. Perhaps they consider severely disabled people as having no quality of life. Our dignity and quality of life don’t come from what we can or cannot do. Dignity and quality of life are not matters of efficiency, proficiency and productivity. They come from a deeper place– from who we are and how we relate to each other.”

The article is addressed to Canadians. But it might well be addressed also to Filipino Catholics. For we being cajoled by the same people who have succeeded in legalizing the use of over-the-counter contraceptives through the RH Act to accept the “termination” of patients who request to be killed as something desirable.

Fr. Rosica writes: “The notion that euthanasia and/or assisted suicide can be a reality for us in Canada should come as a wake-up call to all Canadians, not just because of the notion that all life is sacred from conception to natural death, but simply because of whom such a law would affect most, the most vulnerable; the chronically ill, who are a strain on the health care system; the elderly who have been abandoned and who have no one to speak on their behalf, and who feel they may be a burden to others; and the disabled who have to fight every day to maintain their own integrity and dignity.”

His description of Canadian society also fits the rich Western societies that were formerly but are no mlonger guided by Christian values.

“Our society has lost sight of the sacred nature of human life. As Catholic Christians we are deeply committed to the protection of life from its earliest moments to its final moments. When people today speak about a ‘good death,’ they usually refer to an attempt to control the end of one’s life, even through physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. The Christian notion of a good death, however, is death not as a good end, but a good transition, that requires faith, proper acceptance and readiness.” That is the society the Philippines is turning into, one that has turned its back on the Christian notion of death.

“What is wrong with abortion, euthanasia, embryo selection, and embryonic research is not the motives of those who carry them out. So often, those motives are, on the surface, compassionate: to protect a child from being unwanted, to end pain and suffering, to help a child with a life-threatening disease. But in all these cases, the terrible truth is that it is the strong who decide the fate of the weak; human beings therefore become instruments in the hands of other human beings.

“St. John Paul II taught us how to respect the frail and the vulnerable. Nine years ago, as he died before the eyes of the entire world, John Paul showed us true dignity in the face of death. Rather than hide his infirmities, as most public figures do, he let the whole world see what he went through in the final phase of his life. He offered us a paradoxical image of happiness. Who can say his life was not fruitful, when his body was able to climb snow-capped summits or vacation on Strawberry Island in Lake Simcoe in 2002? Who doesn’t feel the paradoxical influence of his presence, when his voice was muted?

“We must never lose sight of the atrocities against the unborn, the untold and too-seldom spoken of pain and lingering anguish experienced by those who have been involved in abortions. Nor can we ignore the other great challenge faced by humanity today–the serious question of mercy killing, or euthanasia as it is sometimes called, no longer found in abstract cases and theories. It has arrived on our shores and it has invaded our lives.

“This issue strikes to the very core of who we are and what we believe. Even when not motivated by the refusal to be burdened with the life of someone who is suffering, euthanasia must be called a false and misguided mercy. True compassion leads to sharing another’s pain, not killing the person whose suffering we cannot bear. The best way to know if we are still in any way a Christian society is to see how we treat our most vulnerable people, the ones with little or no claim on public attention, the ones without beauty, strength or intelligence.” Rene Q. Bas

To be concluded tomorrow

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1 Comment

  1. Carlo L. Adan on

    Thank you for publishing this article. I hope pro-euthanaisa congtessmen read it.