Rorate Caeli

The President of the Pontifical Academy for Life: "Personally I would not practice assisted suicide, but..."

It is pretty safe to say that, since its "reform" in late 2016, the Pontifical Academy for Life has become a withered husk of its former self, embroiled in controversy after controversy under its current president, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia - from damaging statements on abortion, to suggestions that the Church's teaching on contraception in Humanae vitae is "reformable", to some of its members (even the 'Catholic' ones!) being openly against Church teaching on life issues

Perhaps, then, it should not come as too much of a surprise that the Academy's president is in favour of the liberalisation of euthanasia laws. Archbishop Paglia, in a speech to the International Festival of Journalism in Perugia, Italy, said on April 19 that: 

[I]t cannot be excluded that in our society a legal mediation is feasible which allows assisted suicide in the conditions specified by the [Italian] Constitutional Court's Judgment 242/2019... The bill approved by the Chamber of Deputies (but not by the Senate) basically followed this line. Personally I would not practice assisted suicide, but I understand that legal mediation can constitute the greatest common good concretely possible in the conditions in which we find ourselves. (Italian textvideo)

This is, of course, absolutely contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. For example:

To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom: "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin" (Jn 8:34). [John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, n. 20]

[I]n harmony with the Magisterium of my Predecessors and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. [John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, n. 65]

[C]ivil law must ensure that all members of society enjoy respect for certain fundamental rights which innately belong to the person, rights which every positive law must recognize and guarantee. First and fundamental among these is the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being. While public authority can sometimes choose not to put a stop to something which — were it prohibited — would cause more serious harm, it can never presume to legitimize as a right of individuals — even if they are the majority of the members of society — an offence against other persons caused by the disregard of so fundamental a right as the right to life. The legal toleration of abortion or of euthanasia can in no way claim to be based on respect for the conscience of others, precisely because society has the right and the duty to protect itself against the abuses which can occur in the name of conscience and under the pretext of freedom. [John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, n. 65]

[E]uthanasia is an act of homicide that no end can justify and that does not tolerate any form of complicity or active or passive collaboration. Those who approve laws of euthanasia and assisted suicide, therefore, become accomplices of a grave sin that others will execute. They are also guilty of scandal because by such laws they contribute to the distortion of conscience, even among the faithful. [CDF, Samaritanus bonus, V.1]

[W]hatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction... all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonour to the Creator. [Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, n. 27]

What about euthanasia? Killing is not human, period. If you kill with motivation, eventually you will kill more and more. It is not human. Let’s leave killing to the beasts. [Francis, Apostolic Journey to Kazakhstan, Press conference on return flight, 15 Sept 2022]

Paglia's "personally I would not practice assisted suicide, but..." is not a Catholic position. It would be bad enough if he were still in charge of the Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia, but coming from the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life it is deeply, deeply scandalous. An apology and retraction is the very least that should happen. However, given recent history, one instead expects a tortured explanation from the Academy of how, contrary to all logic and sense, Archbishop Paglia's words on the introduction of euthanasia laws are, in fact, doubleplusgood and completely in accord with Catholic teaching. 

For the "beasts" are in charge of the Pontifical Academy for Life. And, sadly, it is Francis who has put them there, and left them there to do what they will. Kyrie, eleison!

Pictured: A spokesman for the Pontifical Academy for Life: "Nothing to see here!"