An acid attack victim, who had already planned to end her life this month through euthanasia, changed her mind after Pope Francis spoke powerful words to her. Consuela Cordoba, 56, of Colombia, has been suffering the last 17 years after her former partner doused her face with the corrosive liquid.
When she recently met with the pope, she sought his approval for her plan to die. The pontiff refused and told her that she was “very brave and very pretty.”
Since the vicious crime in 2000, Cordoba has undergone 87 surgeries in an attempt not just to reconstruct her face, but to likewise bring back a semblance of normalcy to her routine.
Cordoba now relies on tubes in her nostrils in order to breathe and she can only consume liquid food, which she takes in through a straw. She was diagnosed recently with a brain infection, and that was the reason behind her decision to die.
“I had perfect teeth, I was very pretty. But now, I’m destroyed,” she told NPR in 2012. The disfigurement left her unable to land a job, which made her a fixture in one of Bogota’s wholesale markets. She doesn’t live with family members and depends on the kindness of strangers.
She admitted to having suicidal thoughts because of her physical and psychological anguish. Cordoba’s date for her supposed medically-assisted suicide was September 29. She was one of the few chosen from the crowd to speak with Pope Francis during his five-day visit to Colombia.
After the two hugged, Cordoba asked the pontiff about her plan, which he immediately objected. The words he uttered appeared to have moved Cordoba, according to the Daily Mail.
“That changed my life. Now I want to live,” she said. She further claimed that she would thank her doctor for the planned injection, but would tell him that “it is for another.”
During his visit, Pope Francis made sure to spread his message about the importance of extending help to the poor and marginalized. He further condemned violence towards woman, as the BBC reported. He said many communities are still “weighed down with patriarchal and chauvinistic customs.”
In April, 2015, Colombia became the fourth nation in the world to legalize euthanasia. When the country’s Health Ministry made the right legally binding, the Catholic Church wasn’t pleased, calling the move a “serious attempt against the dignity of the sick and against the inviolability of the fundamental right to life.”
Religions like Catholicism insist that terminally ill patients be given palliative care instead of euthanasia.
[Featured Image by AP/Fernando Vergara]