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Ask a Priest - Explaining the Church's Teachings Against Euthanasia Amidst Emotional Stories

Last edited 24th June 2013

Ask a Priest - Explaining the Church's Teachings Against Euthanasia Amidst Emotional Stories

This article is making its way around Facebook and Twitter in support of euthanasia:

How can we argue the Church's teachings on euthanasia when there are so many emotional stories about people suffering and wanting to die. I agree with the Church, but I find it really hard to talk about euthanasia to non-religious people.


Yes, many people do suffer, but what they need is help, not to be killed. It is normal to feel compassion for someone who has a terminal illness or is elderly and sick but if we were to provide them with adequate treatment and care and support then this would be the way to show our concern for them.

While some who are ill or elderly do express a desire to put an end to their lives this is usually because they are not being adequately looked after. Once they do receive proper care then they do not want to end their lives.

That is the why one organization in the UK has chosen as its name "Care Not Killing." I recommend you have a look at their Website, which has some very interesting material.

The personal stories section has a number of accounts by people who explain why they did not want to die. This recent article by Margaret Somerville is a good analysis of the reasons why some are campaigning for euthanasia. Another article, by someone who is an expert in bioethics and is also suffering from serious health problems, describes how misguided compassion could easily turn into pressure on people to end their lives because they are made to feel they are a burden.

I recommend you have a look at the Xt3 library, where under the category list on the left of the page you will find the entry "Life issues - Euthanasia." There is a lot of very useful material there that will help you when you discuss this topic with other people.

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Stephen Becker
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Stephen Becker wrote at 8:07pm on June 24th 2013
My mother is 96 and fell sunday morning breaking her hip. She is in "comfort care" as she is unable to withstand surgery. I am confused about the morality of all this, keeping her medicated on morphine till she passes. Pray for both of us. God Bless......e-mail me if you want to.
Father John Flynn
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Father John Flynn wrote at 2:16am on June 25th 2013
Dear Stephen:

I think that the important thing to keep in mind is that we try to do our best to care for those who are suffering or sick, but this is not done by killing them, and thus telling them that we are better off without them, but by providing adequate medical treatment. Unfortunately, in some cases, such as that of your mother, there is no medical cure that can reverse what has happened, but our love and respect for them motivates us to do all we can to alleviate their suffering, while at the same time respecting their dignity as a human person.