New Vatican document hailed for clear approach against assisted suicide

New Vatican document hailed for clear approach against assisted suicide Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, chairman of the Council for Life of the Irish bishops› conference. Photo: CNS/Irish Catholic

Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran and theologian Dr John Murray have both praised the Vatican’s document on human dignity published on Monday, Dignitas Infinata, which outlines the Church’s response to some of the societal issues which are calling the concept of human dignity into question – particularly the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Speaking in the aftermath of the document’s release on Monday, Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran welcomed its publication and overarching message.

“I welcome the publication by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith of a new document on human dignity, Dignitas Infinita,” he said. “This document makes it clear that Human Dignity is not something that is given or conceded by law, or something which a person can somehow ‘lose’.  Human dignity is inherent in the human nature of every person.”

Bishop Doran continued, “Dignitas Infinita addresses a wide range of circumstances in which particular actions, or failures to act, by individuals or by the State, would contradict the dignity of a person or a whole group of persons.  These include sexual abuse, human trafficking, abortion, discrimination against migrants or people with disability and violence against women.

“At a time when euthanasia and assisted suicide are being actively promoted by vocal minorities in many countries including our own, the extract on euthansia from Dignitas Infinita is particularly relevant.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic, lecturer in Moral Theology/Christian Ethics at DCU, Dr John Murray hailed the clarity of the document – particularly with regard to its section on assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“The section on Euthanasia is very pertinent and clear. The terminology used in Ireland is assisted dying and that itself is a euphemism – it’s deceptive language. The section is a clarion call. Now whether anyone in Irish politics is going to listen to that is another question.”

Dr Murray stressed that objections to assisted suicide and euthanasia are not just explicitly directed by one’s faith but that it is an inherently a matter of reason and that politicians in Ireland ought to approach the matter from this perspective.

“It isn’t a matter purely of faith, but of reason,” he said. “The teaching of the Church is very clear and the teaching of reason is very clear on killing. If politicians were able to focus their minds honestly on the fact we’re talking about killing rather than just helping people to die – which generally is a good thing and a good part of medicine and human sympathy.

“Dignity with dying – that phase is used by the pro-euthanasia and assisted suicide argument – if you want to call it an argument. It’s deceptive again because it isn’t facing the fact that it’s deliberately killing or helping someone else deliberately take innocent human life. So that means that even if it’s well-intentioned, it’s going to be against human dignity – a violation of it,” he warned.