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James Peterson wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • I'm a Catholic and I need to know how big a sin assisted death is in this religion?

I'm in a whole lot a pain and there isn't a lot doctors can do.

  • Would I go to your Hell if I chose that out?

Thank you for your time.

James

  { Is assisted death a big sin in this religion and would I go to your Hell by making this choice? }

Bob replied:

James,

Assisted [death|suicide] is still suicide and it is a sin. Your suffering does not have to be in vain. As Catholics, we have a great example in Jesus Christ who gave His Life and suffering for the sake of all of us. You can make your life as meaningful if you give it all to God.

  • Do you want to make your life something beautiful for God?

Offer every miserable moment for those:

  • who have no hope
  • that live in war, or
  • that have lost their families.

There is always someone whose situation is worse. Let God use your difficulties to help them then Jesus will give you a great reward and you will not have damaged your soul. Your death is as important as your life, for it is the gateway to your Eternal Life. Only God can give you a good eternity, and Jesus Christ is the one who will take you if you let Him. Get to know Him and pray. Jesus knows suffering and will be with you in it all.

What doctors can't do, He can. He can heal your soul, and that is the only healing you really need.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Eric replied:

Hi, James —

Sorry for the delay in responding; your e-mail fell into my spam folder.

I am so sorry to hear of your situation (I presume you are speaking of yourself). The Church understands the pain and agony you are going through and invites you to unite your sufferings with the sufferings of Christ, and emphasizes that there is value in your suffering — you are being conformed to Christ in your suffering. Your suffering is, in a mysterious way, a gift, and the Church encourages you to accept it.

Euthanasia, i.e. mercy killing, is a grave sin in Catholicism. This is distinguished from refusing medical treatment or accepting genuine, relevant, medical treatment that may shorten one's life.

This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church's official teaching handbook, says:

Euthanasia

2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.

2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.

Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.

2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.

More details are available in the Declaration on Euthanasia.

Also, for detailed answers about specific moral questions involving bioethics, I encourage you to consult with the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Eric

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