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147 A mentality ever less ready to recognize life as a value in itself, relative to God alone, independent of how it came into being; a concept of the quality of life in terms of efficiency and psychophysical satisfaction, incapable of seeing any meaning in suffering and handicap, and hence to be avoided at any cost and by every means; a vision of death as an absurd end to a life still to be enjoyed, or as a liberation from an existence already considered meaningless; all of this—within a culture which, leaving God aside, makes man responsible to himself alone and to freely established laws of society—is the soil of the euthanasia culture. Where these convictions are disseminated "it could seem logical and 'human' to end one's own life or that of another 'peacefully', when all that is left to it is suffering and serious impairment."
"But this is really absurd and inhuman." <Euthanasia is a homicidal act, which no end can justify>. By euthanasia is meant an action or omission which of its nature or by intention causes death, in order that all suffering may be eliminated. Euthanasia's terms of reference, therefore, are to be found in the intention of the will and in the methods used."
The pity aroused by the pain and suffering of terminally ill persons, abnormal babies, the mentally ill, the elderly, those suffering from incurable diseases, does not authorize any form of direct euthanasia, active or passive. This is not a question of helping a sick person, but rather the intentional killing of a person.
279. John Paul II, <To the participants at the 54th Updating Course of the Catholic University>, Sept. 6, 1984, in <Insegnamenti> VII/2, 333-334.
280. Ibid., p. 334, n. 3. "Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable" (CEC 2277).
281. Cong. Doct. Faith, <Declaration on Euthanasia>, May 5, 1980, in AAS 72 (1980) pp. 545-546.
148 Medical and paramedical personnel—faithful to the task of "always being at the service of life and assisting it to the end" cannot cooperate in any euthanistic practice even at the request of the one concerned, and much less at the request of the relatives. In fact, the individual does not have the right to euthanasia, because he does not have a right to dispose arbitrarily of his own life. Hence no health care worker can be the executive guardian of a non-existent right.
It is a different matter when there is question of the right, already mentioned, of dying with human and Christian dignity. This is a real and legitimate right which medical personnel are called on to safeguard by caring for the patient and accepting the natural termination of life. There is a radical difference between "death dealing" and "consent to dying": the former is an act suppressing life, the latter means accepting life until death.
282. Cf. John Paul II, <To the participants at the III World Congress of the "International College of Psychosomatic Medicine>," Sept. 18, 1975. in AAS 67 (1975) 545.
149 "The pleas of gravely ill persons who sometimes ask for death are not to be understood as implying a true desire for euthanasia; in fact it is almost always a case of an anguished plea for help and love. What a sick person needs, besides medical care, is love, the human and supernatural warmth with which the sick person can and ought to be surrounded by those close to him or her, parents and children, doctors and nurses."
The sick person who feels surrounded by a loving human and Christian presence does not give way to depression and anguish as would be the case if one were left to suffer and die alone and wanting to be done with life. This is why <euthanasia is a defeat> for the one who proposes it, decides it and carries it out. Far from being an act of mercy to the patient, euthanasia is a gesture of individual and social self-pity and an escape from an unbearable situation.
283. Cong. Doct. Faith, <Declaration on Euthanasia>, May 5, 1980, in AAS 72 (1980) p. 546. Cf. John Paul II, <To the participants at the International Congress on Assistance to the Dying>, in Oss. Rom. March 18, 1992, nn. 3, 5.
150 Euthanasia <upsets the doctor-patient relationship>. On the part of the patient, because he relates to the doctor as one who can assure him of death. On the part of the doctor, because he is no longer the absolute guarantor of life: the sick person will be afraid that the doctor may cause his death. The doctor-patient relationship is a life-trusting one and this is how it should remain.
Euthanasia is a "crime" in which health care workers, who are always and only guardians of life, can in no way cooperate.
For medical science it marks "a backward step of surrender, as well as an insult to the personal dignity of the one who is dying." Its being depicted as a "further harbor of death after abortion" should be understood as a "dramatic appeal" for <effective, unreserved fidelity to life.>286
284. Cf. John Paul II, <To two work groups set up by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences>, Oct. 21, 1985, n. 3.
285. Cf. John Paul II, <To the participants at a study course on "human preleukoemias,>" Nov. 15, 1985, in <Insegnamenti> VIII/2, p. 1265, n. 5.
286. Cf. John Paul II, <To the participants at the 54th Updating Course of the Catholic University>, Sept. 6, 1984, in <Insegnamenti> VII/2, p. 334, n. 4.
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