“As believers, therefore, we ask the same questions that concern everyone, in the knowledge that we are in a pluralistic democratic society. In this case, about the end of (earthly) life, we find ourselves all facing a common question: How can we reach (together) the best way to articulate the good (ethical plane) and the just (legal plane), for each person and for society?”
Paglia criticized the expansion of laws in some countries to permit involuntary euthanasia. At the same time, he said it was “not to be ruled out” that legalized assisted suicide “is feasible in our society,” provided certain conditions spelled out by a 2019 Italian constitutional court ruling are met.
Specifically, he said, quoting from the court’s direction, “the person must be ‘kept alive by life-support treatment and suffering from an irreversible pathology, a source of physical or psychological suffering that he or she considers intolerable, but fully capable of making free and conscious decisions.’” The Italian House of Representatives has already approved such legislation, but not the Senate, he noted.
This is not the first time Paglia’s remarks on assisted suicide have stirred controversy. In 2019, answering a question about assisted suicide and whether a Catholic or a Catholic priest can be present at someone’s death by assisted suicide, Paglia told a small group of journalists that he would be willing to do so, because “the Lord never abandons anyone.”
“In this sense, to accompany, to hold the hand of someone who is dying, is, I think a great duty every believer should promote,” he said at the time, adding that believers should also provide a contrast to the culture of assisted suicide.
More recently, in August 2022, Paglia was sharply criticized by abortion opponents for referring in an Italian television interview to Law 194 — the 1978 law legalizing abortion in Italy — as a “pillar of society.” In a subsequent statement, the Pontifical Academy of Life said the comment was taken out of context.
Shannon Mullen is the Editor-in-Chief of CNA. He previously worked as a features writer, investigative reporter, and editor with the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press. He has received numerous national reporting awards and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.