Pope Francis has told an oncology association that euthanasia is a way of treating the human person as an object. While it may appear to give freedom, it is really a rejection of hope, he said.
“The practice of euthanasia, which has already been legalised in several countries, only apparently aims to encourage personal freedom,” he said.
“In reality,” he continued, “it is based on a utilitarian view of the person, who becomes useless or can be equated to a cost, if from the medical point of view, he has no hope of improvement or can no longer avoid pain.”
Pope Francis spoke about euthanasia to a group of about 150 members of the Italian Association of Medical Oncology, in an audience at the Vatican, on September 2.
The Italian Association of Medical Oncology was founded in 1973. It is one of many such associations around the world, all dedicated to the treatment of cancer, and to providing medical care to people diagnosed with the disease.
“If one chooses death, the problems are solved in a sense; but how much bitterness behind this reasoning, and what rejection of hope involves the choice of giving up everything and breaking all ties!” the pope declared.
The pope stated that medical technology is not being used for its right purpose, the service of the human person, when it “reduces him to a thing.”
He encouraged the medical personnel to “never lose heart for the misunderstanding you might encounter, or before the insistent proposal of more radical and hasty roads,” adding that their work includes raising awareness in a society “which is not very aware and is sometimes distracted.”
The Association’s National Congress has as its theme: “The best care for each patient”. The pope praised the association for its focus on providing the best care for each individual patient, calling it “an oncology of mercy.”
He encouraged the medical workers to take Jesus as their example. Jesus, he said, “helps them to find the strength not to interrupt the bonds of love, to offer their suffering for brothers, to keep friendship with God.”
“Inspire everyone to be close to those who suffer, to the little ones above all, and to put the weak in the first place, so that they can grow a more human society and relationships marked by gratuitousness, rather than opportunity,” he urged.
Picture: Pope Francis greets the crowd as he leads the Angelus at the Vatican on 15 August 2019, the feast of the Assumption. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)