Theological conversations about euthanasia often concern ideas like the relationship between suffering and spirituality. Yet, there is a type of mental conflict that receives little attention, writes Dr Virginia Miller. Source: Catholic Voice.
That is the conflict between wanting to live according to Catholic teachings, on the one hand, and the desire for the instant relief of suffering that euthanasia can bring, on the other hand.
This mental conflict is intensified by the quasi-moral legal status of euthanasia and by the ease of access to euthanasia services.
That said, it is salient to mention here that the temptation to relieve suffering is nothing to be ashamed of. We know from St Augustine and St Paul that Christians cannot always resist the temptation to go against their Christian duty – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
However, let us not avoid the issue here: Catholics are forbidden from requesting euthanasia.
This is clearly expressed in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s document, Declaration on Euthanasia. It is also of vital importance that Christians dissuade others from accepting euthanasia services. For the battle against euthanasia is one all Christians must join, not only the terminally ill and bishops.
Yet, let us not delude ourselves: suffering by its very nature is always tough, as are the demands of caring for the sick. Hence, the call on Christians to fight against euthanasia is demanding.
The most credible means of helping people to resist the temptation of euthanasia is to give the terminally ill the reassurance that Christians will do all they can to live out their own Christian duty to alleviate pain when they can, to “carry each other’s burdens” when they cannot carry their own, and to always hope for moments of joy, even amidst great suffering.
Dr Virginia Miller is a research fellow at the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre at Charles Sturt University.
The Temptation of Euthanasia (Catholic Voice)