Speaking to Italian doctors, Pope Francis said euthanasia and assisted suicide is “discarding the patient” masquarading as “false compassion.”
Last Friday, Pope Francis met with around 350 representatives from the Italian National Federation of the Orders of Doctors and Dental Surgeons in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.
President of the federation Filippo Anelli gave Pope Francis a letter talking about the “profound unease” they face in their profession because a “distortion of the values that sustain our society” prior to his address.
“The crisis today requires a special awareness and effort not only from doctors but also from all civil society in order to restore the right values, recognizing the doctor’s role as a professional who protects that right to the health of the citizen.”
The Holy Father said they must respect the dignity of each patient and relate to them, treating them more than just an illness to be cured and disregarding their personhood. In this way, they do not “lose sight of the uniqueness of each patient, with his dignity and his fragility.”
“We must always remember that illness is more than a clinical fact; it is always the condition of a person, the sick person, and it is with this entirely human vision that doctors are called to relate to the patient: considering therefore his singularity as a person who has an illness, and not only a case of whatever illness that patient has.”
He said having this attitude, “conscience, intelligence and heart, especially in the most serious situations,” means the avoidance of the “pitfalls to which today’s medicine is exposed.” As “medicine is by definition service to human life,” using medicine to end life must be rejected, even if made legal under the law.
“We can and must reject the temptation – also induced by legislative changes – to use medicine to support a possible willingness to die of the patient, providing assistance to suicide or directly causing death by euthanasia.”
Pope Francis said assisted suicide and euthanasia are merely “false compassion” that is merely “discarding the patient as possibility.”
“There is no right to dispose arbitrarily of one’s life, so no doctor can become an executive guardian of a non-existent right.”
The Holy Father’s comments come after the Constitutional Court of Italy called for a session to consider making assisted suicide legal.
You can read Pope Francis full address here on the Vatican website.