The Why Behind the What: What is the Catholic Teaching and Why Do We Believe It?


Simply put, this is murder – even though it may look like a kindness to the suffering person. To bring about the death of a person in order to end his suffering is “always a serious violation of the law of God because it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person.” (Gospel of Life, 65)


The Catechism states: “Thus an act of omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgement into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.” (CCC, 2277)

People who have suffered brain damage or are in a coma are particularly at risk. However, “A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a ‘vegetable’ or an ‘animal’. Even our brothers and sisters in the clinical condition of a ‘vegetative state’ retain their human dignity in all its fullness. The loving gaze of God the Father continues to fall upon them, acknowledging them as his sons and daughters, especially in need of help.” (Saint John Paul II, Address to the International Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments and the Vegetative State, March 20, 2004) Proper care for these individuals is addressed more fully under End of Life Issues.

Euthanasia must be rejected as the killing of our weakest and most vulnerable. Saint John Paul II so beautifully states: “True ‘compassion’ leads to sharing another’s pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear.” (The Gospel of Life, 65)