Colombian bishop implores ill woman to not be euthanized

Euthanasia_Medical_syringe_Credit_sfam_photo_Shutterstock_CNA Credit: sfam_photo/Shutterstock./ null

The head of the Colombian bishops’ Commission for the Promotion and Defense of Life on Wednesday addressed a video message to Martha Liria Sepúlveda Campo, a 51-year-old woman who is sick but not terminally so, urging her to desist from her decision to be euthanized.

"As [a] pastor of the Catholic Church, with great respect and affection, I want to tell my sister Martha that she is not alone, that the God of life always accompanies us," Bishop Francisco Antonio Ceballos Escobar of Riohacha said in an Oct. 6 message.

He assured her "that your affliction can find a transcendent meaning if it becomes a call to Love that heals, Love that renews, Love that forgives." 

Sepúlveda, 51, has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which last year made her unable to move her legs.

CaracolTV broadcast a report Oct. 3 in which the Medellin resident said she was “peaceful” about her decision to be euthanized, and that she is "a Catholic person, I consider myself a very much a believer in God, but, I repeat, God does not want to see me suffer and I believe no one to suffer. No father wants to see his children suffer.”

The report states that Sepúlveda’s euthanization is scheduled Oct. 10.

Sepúlveda would be the first woman in a non-terminal state to die after the Constitutional Court of Colombia’s July ruling that allowed non-terminally ill patients to be euthanized.

In his video, Bishop Ceballos said: “Martha, I invite you to calmly reflect on your decision, hopefully, if circumstances allow it, away from harassment by the media that have not hesitated to take your pain and that of your family and use it as a kind of propaganda for euthanasia, in a country deeply marked by violence.”

He then recalled the words of Benedict XVI in his Feb. 1, 2009 Angelus address: “the true response cannot be to put someone to death, however ‘kindly’, but rather to witness to the love that helps people to face their pain and agony in a human way.”

The Colombian prelate encouraged the faithful to pray for and her family, to reconsider her decision.

“To surround her in her reflection, I affectionately invite all Catholics to join in prayer for our sister Martha, for her son, for her relatives and for the professionals who are advising her, so that the God of Life, who is Supreme Love, would fill her with his mercy,” the bishop urged.

Bishop Ceballos also invited Sepúlveda to participate in the Oct. 9 Mass during which he will pray for her.

“I also invite Martha Liria to the Eucharist … in which we will pray for your life, so that the Lord, who took upon himself pain even unto death and a death on the cross, will give you  the courage to accompany him to the same cross," the prelate said.

In his message, the Bishop of Riohacha explained that "in accordance with our deepest Christian convictions, death cannot be the therapeutic answer to pain and suffering in any case."

"Death caused by assisted suicide or euthanasia is not compatible with our interpretation of the dignity of human life, whereas the use of palliative care is," he stressed.

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