Cardeal Eijk Rebukes Pontifical Academy for Life Members Supporting Assisted Suicide

The Cardinal refuted Fr Casalone’s arguments in Civiltà Cattolica. “Legalising assisted suicide -he ramarked,- automatically paves the way to legalising euthanasia as the next logical step, since there is no significant moral difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia.”

Newsroom (23/02/2022 2:35 PM, Gaudium Press) Cardinal Willem Eijk, a physician and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has firmly rejected support for assisted suicide as a tactic to prevent the legalization of voluntary euthanasia in Italy. A controversial stand in favour of assisted suicide was supported by Fr Carlo Casalone and Professor Marie-Jo Thiel, members of the same Academy.
Assisted suicide involves persons with a terminal illness or incurable condition ending their life with a lethal dose of drugs. Voluntary euthanasia requires permission or consent, given to a doctor, to bring about death on incurable and painful illness or in coma.
In an article published in La Civiltà Cattolica, Fr Casalone argued that making a “general negative assessment” of legislation calling for voluntary euthanasia would risk “favouring the referendum” then proposed for Italy on this issue and its aim of legalizing it.
The priest suggested invoking the principle of “imperfect laws,” or some cases where it could be lawful for a Catholic politician to vote for a law that restricts one already passed and contrary to Church teaching. An example, in Casalone’s point of view, would be voting to reduce the legality of abortion from 24 to 16 weeks. According to the Jesuit , this principle could be applied to favour assisted suicide, a supposedly lesser evil compared to the greater evil of voluntary euthanasia.

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Cardinal Eijk’s response

Cardinal Eijk, on his part, categorically rejected Fr Casalone’s suggestion and argument. The Cardinal remarked that “there is no significant moral difference” between assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, “neither on the side of the patient nor the doctor,” since both have “the same moral responsibility” in carrying out a murder.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Eijk said that assisted suicide and euthanasia go hand in hand. Therefore the argument that allowing assisted suicide legislation would prevent euthanasia legislation “makes no sense.”
“It would simply and automatically open the way to legalising euthanasia, because the ethical difference between the two is not significant,” he pondered.
On the argument of “imperfect laws,” the Cardinal clarified that John Paul II used this in Evangelium Vitae (n. 73) in the context of restricting abortion. But added that “voting for a law by which it allows medically assisted suicide in no way implies a restriction on the legalization of euthanasia.”
“On the contrary,” he stressed, “legalizing assisted suicide automatically paves the way to legalizing euthanasia as the next logical step, since there is no significant moral difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Compiled by Gustavo Kralj

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