Death with dignity is not the same as euthanasia, says president of Colombian bishops’ conference


The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, issued a statement this week emphasizing that “death with dignity cannot be understood as the right to end life through conditions created artificially by medical personnel or by a mistaken sense of mercy for the patient,” he said, in reference to a Senate bill regarding euthanasia.

In his statement entitled, “Death with dignity is not the same as euthanasia,” Archbishop Castro noted that the “true meaning of death with dignity is in the natural conclusion life,” accompanied by “medical, family and spiritual support.”

After explaining that “pain and suffering are not obstacles for the life of the human person, but rather, the experience of all human beings tells us that this reality is an integral part of the person seen in his integrity and totality,” Archbishop Castro emphasized that suffering “is the great opportunity to recognize human fragility and the natural challenge to overcome it.”

“The dignity of a human being is not in conflict with his own nature, such that aging, suffering and dying are not phenomena that degrade the dignity of the human being,” he stressed.

Despite the euphemisms, he went on, euthanasia is “murder” and its gravity is not diminished by “false mercy” or because “the patient requests it,” as in the case of assisted suicide.  The arguments put forth by the Senators are an attack upon “the values of our culture, which for centuries, has always experienced suffering and death with sacred respect and transcendent meaning,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Castro pointed out that the approval of the new law would mean “the legalization of the death penalty.”  The Church, he continued, has always cared for the human person in all circumstances and has dedicated herself to the spiritual and physical care of the infirm, “because she believes that everyone deserves a death with dignity, with care that diminishes pain and suffering, but that allows the natural rhythm of existence to terminate without hurried decisions and without unnecessarily prolonging the suffering of the infirm.”

He called on all Colombians to express their rejection of the measure, and he asked lawmakers to confront the country’s problems with honesty, passing legislation that is for the good of the nation, rather than “converting themselves into the executioners of those who voted them into office.”

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