Johannes Jansson, Wikimedia Commons

Pope warns against the ‘false sense of compassion’ in euthanasia

By  Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service
  • November 17, 2014

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has warned doctors and ethicists on several hot-button social issues, attacking abortion, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia as “playing with life” and “a sin against God.”

In a strongly worded address that marked a departure for a Pope who
tends to focus more on social justice issues, Francis denounced what
he called the “false sense of compassion” that was used to promote
abortion and those who regarded euthanasia as “an act of dignity.”

“We are living in a time of experimentation with life. But a bad
experiment,” the Pope told members of the Association of Italian
Catholic Doctors at the Vatican.

Francis also condemned in vitro fertilization, which he said promoted
children as “a right rather than a gift to welcome,” and embryonic
stem cell research, which “used human beings as guinea pigs to
presumably save others.”

“This is playing with life,” he said. “Be careful, because this is a
sin against the Creator: against God the Creator, who created things
this way.”

Francis has spoken out several times against the assisted suicide
movement, which he considers to be a symptom of today’s “throwaway
culture” that views the sick and elderly as a drain on society.

On Saturday, the Pope said it was unlawful to take a life and warned
of the dangers posed to the elderly by “hidden euthanasia” in our
“culture of waste.”

The Vatican’s top bioethicist recently condemned as “reprehensible”
the doctor-assisted death of 29-year-old American Brittany Maynard,
who said she wanted to die with dignity because she was suffering from
terminal brain cancer.

“This woman did this thinking she would die with dignity, but this is
a mistake,” said Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the head of the
Pontifical Academy for Life.

Maynard, who moved to Portland, Ore., to take advantage of the state’s
assisted suicide law, took a lethal prescription provided by a doctor
and died on Nov. 1 after leaving family and friends a final farewell
message.

The Pope did not mention the Maynard case but urged doctors to think
carefully about their work and take courageous decisions in their care
of the elderly, ill and disabled while protecting the sanctity of
human life.

“Your work wants to witness by word and by example that human life is
always sacred, valuable and inviolable,” the pontiff said. “And as
such, it must be loved, defended and cared for.”

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