From The Washington Post:
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), a lifelong Catholic and former Jesuit seminarian, signed a law Monday legalizing physician-assisted suicide in California.
“I have carefully read the thoughtful opposition materials presented by a number of doctors, religious leaders and those who champion disability rights,” Brown wrote in a statement. “I have considered the theological and religious perspectives that any deliberate shortening of one’s life is sinful.”
Brown said he spoke with people who supported the bill, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the family of Brittany Maynard, who made headlines last year when she announced her plan to die by physician-assisted death in Oregon. Brown also wrote that he spoke with a Catholic bishop.
“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” he wrote. “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”
California’s End of Life Option Act passed in mid-September ahead of Pope Francis’s trip to the U.S.
The Catholic Church has long fought laws that would allow physician-assisted death. Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez condemned the bill in a column, writing that “helping someone to die — even if that person asks for that help — is still killing,” according to a Los Angeles Times report. The California Catholic Conference also issued a statement calling on Brown to veto the bill.
From The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul II:
To concur with the intention of another person to commit suicide and to help in carrying it out through so-called “assisted suicide” means to cooperate in, and at times to be the actual perpetrator of, an injustice which can never be excused, even if it is requested. In a remarkably relevant passage Saint Augustine writes that “it is never licit to kill another: even if he should wish it, indeed if he request it because, hanging between life and death, he begs for help in freeing the soul struggling against the bonds of the body and longing to be released; nor is it licit even when a sick person is no longer able to live”. Even when not motivated by a selfish refusal to be burdened with the life of someone who is suffering, euthanasia must be called a false mercy, and indeed a disturbing “perversion” of mercy. True “compassion” leads to sharing another’s pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear. Moreover, the act of euthanasia appears all the more perverse if it is carried out by those, like relatives, who are supposed to treat a family member with patience and love, or by those, such as doctors, who by virtue of their specific profession are supposed to care for the sick person even in the most painful terminal stages.
The choice of euthanasia becomes more serious when it takes the form of a murder committed by others on a person who has in no way requested it and who has never consented to it. The height of arbitrariness and injustice is reached when certain people, such as physicians or legislators, arrogate to themselves the power to decide who ought to live and who ought to die. Once again we find ourselves before the temptation of Eden: to become like God who “knows good and evil” (cf. Gen 3:5). God alone has the power over life and death: “It is I who bring both death and life” (Dt 32:39; cf. 2 Kg 5:7; 1 Sam 2:6). But he only exercises this power in accordance with a plan of wisdom and love. When man usurps this power, being enslaved by a foolish and selfish way of thinking, he inevitably uses it for injustice and death. Thus the life of the person who is weak is put into the hands of the one who is strong; in society the sense of justice is lost, and mutual trust, the basis of every authentic interpersonal relationship, is undermined at its root.
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