Vatican Official

‘Reprehensible Act,’ Vatican Condemns Brittany Maynard’s Assisted Suicide

A high-ranking Vatican official, Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, called the assisted suicide of Brittany Maynard a “reprehensible act.” The denouncement continues the church’s long-standing stance on suicide in general.

Brittany Maynard died November 1 from pills prescribed by her physician in Oregon. The 29-year-old woman was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer on New Year’s Day this year, and was progressively suffering from more severe seizures and head and neck pain. As a result, she made the decision to take her own life, an act made possible by the Death with Dignity Act in Oregon.

Maynard received assistance from the non-profit Compassion and Choices, which advocates for a wider range of end of life options. Compassion and Choices president Barbara Coombs Lee discussed Brittany’s death and legacy.

“Brittany has died, but her love of life and nature, her passion and spirit endure. In Brittany’s memory, do what matters most. And tell those you love how much they matter to you. We will work to carry on her legacy of bringing end-of-life choice to all Americans.”

But Catholic church leader Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula thinks it was reprehensible.

“Brittany Maynard’s act is in itself reprehensible, but what happened in the consciousness we do not know.”

Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula is the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life and a leading voice for the church on bioethical issues. According to the AP, he explained why the act of suicide is reprehensible.

“Suicide is not a good thing. It is a bad thing because it is saying no to life and to everything it means with respect to our mission in the world and towards those around us.”

Then there’s the politics.

In life, Maynard conflicted with church lobbying efforts in the U.K. as the parliament prepared to discuss Lord Falconer’s more lenient assisted suicide bill. The bill would allow people to assist the suicide of mentally competent adults with physician approval.

Maynard gave personal interviews on the U.K.’s tonight show to discuss her decision to die with dignity, speaking out for patients’ rights to end of life options.

Pope Francis’ representative Archbishop Antonio Mennini answered back. Much like Carrasco de Paula’s “reprehensible act” comments, the Archbishop attacked the act of assisted suicide as a “Pandora’s box” that could lead to legal assisted suicide for children, like in Belgium, according to the Telegraph.

“Once we open this Pandora’s box we know as well the horrible consequences that follow. We have seen that even here, among us, regarding abortion, and the last news about ‘selective abortion’. But also elsewhere, in other European countries which recently have made change in their laws moving from a limited concept of euthanasia to a wider spectre, also including children, as in Belgium.”

Although Pope Francis has only spoken through representatives, it’s clear that the church still considers suicide a reprehensible act, one that it will continue to fight against.

[Image Credit: AP]

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