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Peru bishops’ conference decries nation’s 1st euthanasia

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J-P Mauro - published on 05/12/24

The Conference leaned on the recently released "Dignitas Infinita," a declaration from the Holy See about the immense dignity that every human being has.

The Peruvian Episcopal Conference is speaking out after the nation has euthanized its first citizen under a special court decision. While euthanasia is prohibited in Peru, in 2022 the courts ruled that in the case of Ana Estrada, her pursuit of an end to her life should be granted.

The open letter from the bishops, titled “Life is a gift that we receive to take care of,” began by reaffirming the teachings of the Catholic Church on euthanasia: 

“The human being, created in the image and likeness of God, has an intrinsic dignity that no one can deny or detract from. This dignity is made deeper by the incarnation of Christ, who has human nature and lives the experience of being human.”

It pointed to the recently published Vatican declaration, Dignitas Infinita, which counters the notion that euthanasia or assisted suicide respect the dignity of the human person. The declaration instructs that suffering cannot strip a person of their dignity, as it is an inalienable part of the human condition.

Instead, Dignitas Infinita states that suffering can present “an opportunity to strengthen the ties of mutual belonging and become more aware of how precious is each person for the whole of humanity.”

Delving further into Dignitas Infinita, the Conference contended that there is no situation that would justify ending the life of a human being.

The declaration explains that even in painful conditions, human life “is the bearer of dignity,” which is the same for every one of us and must be respected.

The missive goes on to reaffirm Catholic teaching, that life is a gift from God and that the human body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit.” The Church instructs that to assist someone in ending their own life “is an objective offense against the dignity of life.” On this matter Dignitas Infinita reads:

“We must accompany death, but not cause death or assist any form of suicide. Life is a right, not death, which must be embraced, not provided.”

The Conference ended the letter by challenging the stated goals of the Peruvian Constitution, which are supposed to defend the human person and respect their dignity: 

As we remember in the aforementioned statement: “The Constitution of Peru clearly establishes that the supreme goal of society and the State is the defense of the human person and respect for their dignity; This is caring for, respecting, and promoting life from conception to its natural end; Therefore, no authority can legitimately impose or allow it.” As Pope Francis says: “Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a defeat for everyone.”

Read the full letter here.

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