It would be inappropriate for a person intent on assisted suicide to request the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, said Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.
“Asking your priest to be present to something that is in direct contradiction to our Catholic values is not fair to the pastor,” Prendergast said. “Of course a pastor will try and dissuade a patient from requesting suicide and will pray with them and their family, but asking him to be present is in effect asking him to condone a serious sin.” A person who requests a lethal injection “lacks the proper disposition for the anointing of the sick,” he said. “Asking to be killed is gravely disordered and is a rejection of the hope that the rite calls for and tries to bring into the situation.” Prendergast said a priest should go when his presence is requested to pray for the person or to try to dissuade them from assisted suicide. But withholding the sacrament can be a pastoral way to help a patient realize the gravity of their decision. “The rite is for people who are gravely ill or labour under the burden of years and it contains the forgiveness of sins as part of the rite, in either form,” he said. “But we cannot be forgiven pre-emptively for something we are going to do — like ask for assisted suicide when suicide is a grave sin.” The Alberta bishops issued a statement Feb. 11, on the World Day of the Sick, that said participating in assisted-suicide is “morally wrong” and “no Catholic may advocate for, or participate in any way, whether by act or omission, in the intentional killing of another human being either by assisted suicide or euthanasia.”