When a person rejects the Traditional Catholic Faith, he tends to also slide into rejecting the Natural Law. One example of this, among many, is the conciliar church’s slide into condoning euthanasia.
Euthanasia is killing a person—including through starvation or dehydration—because he or other people consider his life painful, burdensome, or useless. This is always a grave evil, because our lives do not belong to us, but to God.1
There are only three circumstances, in which God allows a man to kill another man:
A state may use capital punishment to punish a great crime, after a just trial. As St. Thomas teaches:
[I]f a man is dangerous to the community and corrupts it through some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since “a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). ... [I]t is lawful to kill an evildoer in so far as it is directed to the welfare of the whole community, so that it [viz., the authority to execute criminals] belongs to him alone who has charge of the community’s welfare.
Summa, IIa IIae, Q.62, aa. 2 & 3, respondeo.
A state is permitted to kill enemy combatants, while the state wages a just war. Following and quoting St. Augustine, St. Thomas teaches:
Augustine says in a sermon on the son of the centurion [Ep. ad Marcel. cxxxviii]:If the Christian Religion forbade war altogether, those who sought salutary advice in the Gospel would rather have been counselled to cast aside their arms, and to give up soldiering altogether. On the contrary, they were told:Do violence to no man . . . and be content with your pay(Luke 3:14). If he commanded them to be content with their pay, he did not forbid soldiering.
Summa, IIa IIae, Q.40, a.1, sed contra.
An man is permitted to kill another man while defending himself or others. As St. Thomas teaches:
It is written (Exodus 22:2):If a thief be found breaking into a house or undermining it, and be wounded so as to die; he that slew him shall not be guilty of blood.Now it is much more lawful to defend one’s life than one’s house. Therefore, neither is a man guilty of murder if he kills another in defense of his own life.
Summa, IIa IIae, Q.64, a.7, sed contra.
The reasoning which applies to a man defending himself (and his property), also applies to his defense of his family or, more generally, when one person protects others from attack. Therefore, following and quoting St. Ambrose, St. Thomas teaches:
Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 27):The courage whereby a man in battle defends his country against barbarians, or protects the weak at home, or his friends against robbers, is full of justice.
Summa, IIa IIae, Q.188, a.3, ad 1.
The above three circumstances are all instances of a just defense (i.e., protection)—either of an individual person or of the state. Aside from these three exceptions, killing a man is always a grave sin forbidden by reason, by the Natural Law, and by the Catholic Church, because in all situations other than these types of defense, only God has the right to end human life. Euthanasia is never a defense against a person committing a serious wrong. Therefore, all euthanasia is forbidden because it is always murder.
Because our life belongs to God, we have a duty to take reasonably good care of our body and our life. As St. Thomas teaches:
God commands man to sustain his body. Otherwise he would be his own killer. ... By this Commandment, man is bound to nourish his body and do those other things without which his body cannot live.2
This prohibition against starving or dehydrating ourselves to death also applies to our neighbor. We must treat him as we treat ourselves because we must love our neighbor as ourselves. St. Mark, 12:31.
This is why St. Thomas explains that it is murder to refuse to do what we can, to prevent another person from starving to death. Here are St. Thomas’s words, quoting and following St. Ambrose: “Give food to him that is dying of hunger; if you do not, you are his murderer.”3
Thus, we take as a principle firmly held by all faithful Catholics, that euthanasia (i.e., so-called “mercy killing”) is murder and is always a mortal sin. Euthanasia is against reason, against the Natural Law, and against the Catholic Faith.
However, our corrupt world wishes to kill persons whose lives it considers painful, burdensome, or useless. Saint Servulus is an excellent example of a person whom our modern, corrupt world would consider a suitable candidate for euthanasia. The great Doctor of the Church, St. Gregory the Great, personally knew St. Servulus and described his life in these words:
Under the portico by which you enter the church of the Blessed Clement there used to be a certain man of the name of Servulus, whom many among you, like myself, will remember; a man poor in the things of this world, but rich in merit, whom long illness had enfeebled. From an early age until he died he lay completely paralyzed. Not only could he not stand, he could not even sit up in his bed, nor raise a hand to his mouth, nor turn from one side to the other. He was cared for by his mother and his brother, and by their hands he distributed to the poor whatever he would receive in alms.
He could not read; but he purchased for himself codices of the Sacred Scriptures, and he was wont to ask religious-minded persons who came to see him to read them to him. And in this way, he became fully acquainted with the Word of God, in as far as it was possible to him. For as I have said, he was wholly illiterate. In the midst of his continuous infirmity he strove fervently at all times to give thanks to God, and to fill his days and nights with hymns and praise of God. As the time drew near for his great patience to be rewarded, pain returned to the vital parts of his body. When he knew himself near to death he would exhort all who came to visit him to stand and recite with him the psalms in expectation of his going forth.
And as he lay dying, and while they were reciting the psalms, of a sudden he hushed the voices of the singers, and they were awed at the strength of his voice as he said to them: “Be silent. Can you not hear what glorious praises are resounding from heaven?” And while he lay there listening to these same praises, which he was hearing within his own heart, this sanctified soul was delivered from the weariness of the flesh. And at his going forth, such was the fragrance of the odor that was diffused about him, that all who were present were filled with its wondrous sweetness. And by this sign they understood that the praises heard by him had greeted his soul as it entered paradise. One of our monks, who is still with us, was present at this happening, and is still wont, with tears, to tell us that until the body was placed in the grave the fragrance of the odor was never absent from their nostrils.4
Our carnal, corrupt world is blind to the happiness and merit which come from doing God’s Will, even when He wills that a person patiently suffer throughout life, out of love for God. Because of the world’s blindness, it promotes euthanasia, i.e., killing persons whose lives it considers painful, burdensome, or useless.
Increasingly, the conciliar church condones euthanasia. This should not surprise us, because the conciliar church follows the world. For example, the conciliar church’s Maryland “bishops”5 jointly published a 2007 booklet entitled Comfort & Consolation.6
This booklet promotes the violation of reason, of the Natural Law, and of Catholic teaching, by instructing the reader that it is permissible to choose to starve or dehydrate oneself (or others) to death, if it is sufficiently burdensome to take nutrition or hydration, even though such nutrition or hydration is effective and is being absorbed7 by the body. Here are the booklet’s words:
Patients or those who represent them (their proxies) should choose medically-assisted nutrition and hydration except when the patient can no longer absorb them or when, having sought good counsel, the patient or the proxy judges it excessively burdensome to the patient.8
This conciliar booklet even permits starving a patient to death if a “disproportionate burden” is experienced by the caregivers (rather than the patient), in continuing to feed the patient! Here is how the “bishops” condone starving a person to death if his life is burdensome to the caregivers:
Teaching that “in principle” such feeding is ordinary and proportionate does not mean that in a particular case it could not be judged to impose an extraordinary or disproportionate burden on the recipient or provider of such care.9
Even this booklet recognizes the truth that medically-assisted nutrition and hydration is now an ordinary means of preserving our life. Id. The truth taught by the Catholic Church and by the Natural Law, is that we must always use the ordinary means of preserving life, including nutrition and hydration, regardless of the burden. That is the meaning of “ordinary means” required of us in preserving life. We can never refuse these ordinary means as long as they are effective and the body absorbs their benefit.10
In 2009, the U.S. national conference of “bishops” echoed the Maryland “bishops”, condoning euthanasia:
Medically-assisted nutrition and hydration become morally optional when they cannot reasonably be expected to prolong life or when they would be “excessively burdensome for the patient or [would] cause significant physical discomfort, for example resulting from complications in the use of the means employed.” For instance, as a patient draws close to inevitable death from an underlying progressive and fatal condition, certain measures to provide nutrition and hydration may become excessively burdensome and therefore not obligatory in light of their very limited ability to prolong life or provide comfort.11
Such condoning euthanasia continues to spread in the conciliar church (as it does in the secular world). Condoning euthanasia has progressed even to condoning medically-assisted suicide, in addition to starving or dehydrating the patient to death. For example, the conciliar “bishops” of the Canadian maritime provinces recently advised that people who are considering killing themselves, be compassionately supported. Here are their words:
As people of faith, and ministers of God’s grace, we are called to entrust everyone, whatever their [sic] decisions may be, to the mercy of God. To one and all [,] we wish to say that the pastoral care of souls cannot be reduced to norms for the reception of the sacraments or the celebration of funeral rites. Persons, and their families, who may be considering euthanasia or assisted suicide and who request the ministry of the Church need to be accompanied with dialogue and compassionate prayerful support. The fruit of such a pastoral encounter will shed light on complex pastoral situations and will indicate the most appropriate action to be taken including whether or not the celebration of sacraments is proper.12
A person can share in the guilt of another person’s sin, by counsel, silence, or consent.13 Increasingly, the conciliar hierarchy counsels, is silent, and consents to murder and suicide through starvation and dehydration. Therefore, objectively, the conciliar hierarchy is guilty of those murders in (at least) these three ways.
Supporting such murders is among the countless ways in which the conciliar (so-called) “bishops” are the blind leading the blind (conciliar Catholics) down into the eternal pit.14 Let us pray for them all!
whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord’s(Romans 14:8). ↑
Question 328. When are we answerable for the sins of others?
A. We are answerable for the sins of others whenever we either cause them, or share in them, through our own fault.
Q. 329. In how many ways may we either cause or share the guilt of another’s sin?
A. We may either cause or share the guilt of another’s sin in nine ways:
The Penny Catechism, p. 57.↑