After a prominent archbishop commented to journalists last week that he would hold the hand of a person dying of assisted suicide, two priests and a cardinal offered their perspectives to Catholic News Agency on what a priest ought to do if faced with a person wishing to commit assisted suicide.“Sitting there holding their hand as if it is no big deal is a huge mistake. I think it’s in fact quite cruel… I think we need to as a culture think more about preaching about why suicide is wrong,” Father Pius Pietrzyk, chair of pastoral studies at St Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, told Catholic News Agency.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, made headlines by saying he would be willing to hold the hand of someone dying from assisted suicide, and that he does not see that as lending implicit support for the practice.
“In this sense, to accompany, to hold the hand of someone who is dying, is, I think a great duty every believer should promote,” he said, adding that believers should also provide a contrast to the culture of assisted suicide.
Paglia spoke at a December 10 press conference preceding a two-day symposium on palliative care, being sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the WISH initiative, part of the Qatar Foundation.
If faced with a situation of a person who is resolved to commit assisted suicide, priests must continue to do whatever they can to dissuade them, Pietrzyk said, and remind them that their eternal soul is at stake.
Beyond that, he said, a priest must do anything in his power to stop a person from committing suicide by any means, even if it means subjecting themselves to civil punishment.
“We stand up for life even at the cost of civil punishment,” Pietrzyk said.
“To do otherwise is to deny the sanctity of life. To sit there passively and stroke someone’s hand instead of actively trying to prevent them is to deny the dignity of their life, is to deny the gift that God has given them in their life. We as a Church refuse to do that.”
He said it is a good idea to invite those family members of the person committing suicide who are opposed to the decision to come together and pray.
He said he thinks priests need to remind the faithful from time to time, whether in catechesis or in homilies, that committing suicide is gravely immoral and that the people who do so risk their souls.
“There’s no question that, at least in this country, the suicide rate has increased. And I think, again, this false sense of mercy is what’s behind it… I think our failure to condemn suicide has led and will continue to lead to a greater number of suicides.”
The above comes from a Dec. 18 story in the Catholic Herald (U.K.)
Even Archbishops embrace the Culture of Death – Now You Know! Thankfully there are honorable priests who will fight them. Souls are at stake and the battle is real, especially when the enemy is in our own ranks.
Please. Kristin’s comment (“even archbishops embrace the culture of death”) is unsupported by the text of the article itself. According to this article, Paglia’s willingness to “hold the hand” of someone who has chosen assisted suicide is NOT seen by him as “lending implicit support for the practice.” And I can see that, giving Paglia the benefit of the doubt. People, you cannot force someone not to do something if he/she is bent on doing it. This is called personal freedom, and God endowed each human being with it, and will receive from God the judgment for his/her choices. It is even MORE Christian–and therefore more difficult–to do what Archbishop Paglia is proposing to do (ie, hold the hand of someone who has done great sin) in spite of one’s efforts to dissuade him.
Well jon, give yourself a Christmas gift and do a little checking – you will find that yes, sadly it is true. Let this particular article be your foray into educating yourself on an important and timely issue.
Furthermore, freedom is not license to do whatever we want, but to do what we ought. And sir, there is no such thing as “MORE Christian”. Based on your shoddy reasoning, it would be OK to drive a woman to an abortion clinic and even pay for the procedure itself. Get it together jon!
Wrong again is Kristen. Firstly to uncharitably allege that the anointed archbishops of the Church support the culture of death is unsupported by her. Now if Kristin insists on that claim, she must provide us with proof for this article does not support her claim, plus the person who makes a claim is duty-bound to support it if called upon. I am calling her to supply the proof.
Secondly we are not talking about driving a woman to an abortion clinic or paying for it. Please do debate coherently here. We’re talking about an eminently charitable and Christian action in the face someone’s disobedience to an advice given and to the Church’s teachings.
jon, you must seek the proof yourself as it will be a good exercise for you. Having read prior posts of yours, it is clear that you prefer emotionalism to reason, therefore I release you to your circumstance.
Sorry Kristin, but since you are the one making a claim (that the Church’s archbishops embrace the culture of death),you are therefore duty-bound to provide the facts and proof to support your claim when you are called upon; otherwise your claim is false–or that you have lost credibility. That’s how system of justice works. Otherwise, to what are you appealing as “proof” for the veracity of your claims? Nothing, other than sheer “emotionalism.” It seems that Kristin is actually the one guilty of the very thing she falsely accuses me of. Carry on folks, carry on.
i think the last paragraph is very unclear. Is Fr P referring to the suicide rate among otherwise healthy persons? Or to the rate among only the terminally ill?
God bless Fr. Pius (and Archbishop Cordileone, at whose seminary he serves)! Of course, we should love people, talk with them and point them to palliative care. That said, we don’t hold the hand of someone committing mortal sin! If I know of someone having sex with someone other than his or her spouse, should I offer to go along, hold their hands and accompany them?! Should I tag along on an armed robbery or a cross burning on a front lawn in order to “accompany” the perpetrators?! That’s ridiculous. May God grant Archbishop Paglia, and all the clergy at the Vatican, clarity, as well as charity, about important, relevant moral issues.
We need clear and uncompromising teaching in Catechesis and especially from the pulpit. Besides the temptation of both clergy and laity to acquiesce to the secular viewpoint on just about everything, there is the problem of having to taylor teaching to the audience. Catechism generally skips any depth on marriage or life issues because the audience is too young. Teaching from the pulpit runs into almost the same problem….How much can Father say in front of children?
Whoops…”tailor” of course.
Archbishop Paglia, the strange individual elevated to his present position by Pope Francis, should instead have been laicized and excommunicated if he refused to repent. A Lifesite News story tells of the large homoerotic mural he commissioned in the church over which he presided in Italy’s Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/leading-vatican-archbishop-featured-in-homoerotic-painting-he-commissioned .
Deacon Anderson, well said!!
Mike M., the suicide rate across the board, is increasing.
In my opinion, the last paragraph is unclear. Is Fr P referring to the suicide rate among those who are otherwise healthy? Or to those who have a terminal illness?
I don’t think clergy in one diocese ought to pubilcly criticise the faith and morals of a Bishop of another territory.. It’s just not his role. Worse, I don’t think he ought to mischaracterize what the Bishop said. The Bishop did NOT say that holding the hand of a person in the midst of death was “no big thing”. He simply did not say that.
Anonymous, if that was directed to me, please permit me to reply and clarify. I did not criticize the faith or morals of the archbishop. Like Fr. Pius, and others, I’m critical of a pastoral practice not in keeping with Catholic morality. I never said the archbishop said it was “no big thing.” Those are your words. How did I mischaracterize what the archbishop said? I am sincerely open to correction. I think you mischaracterized what I wrote. If you’re confident your position is that of the Church’s, why your anonymity?
I was referring to Father Pietrzyk who said that accompanying a dieng person treated it “as if it was no big deal”. This song isn’t about you.
“Anonymous,” thank you for clarifying that. People don’t usually sing songs about me and I’m perfectly fine with that. Merry Christmas!