*** DEBUG END ***

Euthanasia is homicide, Roman Catholics told in new Vatican document

02 October 2020


Pope Francis during his audience with the Italian police, on Monday

Pope Francis during his audience with the Italian police, on Monday

THE Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has reaffirmed Roman Catholic teaching that euthanasia is an “intrinsically evil act”.

The letter Samaritanus Bonus: On the care of persons in the critical and terminal phases of life was published last week to clarify teaching on end-of-life issues.

It describes assisted dying and euthanasia as “homicide”, and says that the sacraments must be withheld from those who are planning to end their lives. Priests and others should also avoid any word or gesture that could be interpreted as approving the action, including staying with the person until the act of euthanasia is performed.

Hospitals that practise euthanasia or assisted dying cannot continue to be called “Catholic”, it says. Earlier this year, the Vatican forbade the company that manages the health-care facilities of the Brothers of Charity of Belgium from continuing to use the title “Catholic”, because it permitted euthanasia on its premises.

This is the first time that the issue of pastoral support for those requesting euthanasia has been raised in an official document. The document’s introduction notes that the issue of pastoral accompaniment of those who expressly request euthanasia or assisted suicide “today presents a singular moment when a reaffirmation of the teaching of the Church is necessary”.

The document also sets out that Roman Catholics are allowed to reject aggressive medical treatments at the end of life, if death is imminent and inevitable. It also covers treatment for children with terminal illnesses, and describes the use of prenatal diagnosis of illnesses and disabilities of children as “obsessive”.

It reads: “The sometimes obsessive recourse to prenatal diagnosis, along with the emergence of a culture unfriendly to disability, often prompts the choice of abortion, going so far as to portray it as a kind of ‘prevention’. Abortion consists in the deliberate killing of an innocent human life and as such it is never lawful. The use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes is contrary to the dignity of the person and gravely unlawful because it expresses a eugenic mentality.”

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)