January 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The newly formed laity-led Academy for Life has published a critique of a recent Vatican-run conference on end of life issues that included several speakers who oppose the Catholic Church’s teachings on the right to life. Among these included the president of the board of Switzerland’s Planned Parenthood affiliate, and the president of the pro-euthanasia Royal Dutch Medical Association.
John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family (JAHLF) said that the Nov. 16-17 conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) — which was recently gutted and re-constituted by Pope Francis — had “serious problems.”
“The spirit of the meeting seems to have been precisely that: a neutral presentation of differing viewpoints on end-of-life questions,” stated the document signed by JAHLF President Josef Seifert and other members of the academy.
The authors stated that in its “original form as founded by St. Pope John Paul II, the PAV required its members to take an oath to always express and defend, according to their respective profession (including theoretical writings), the value of each human life, as well as the truth of the Gospel of Life and of the Church’s teaching on Human Life.”
But there is no such requirement in Pope Francis' reconstitution of the PAV. And, it shows in who was invited to speak at the November conference.
“Based on the presentations of the majority of speakers, obviously the meeting hosted by the PAV should give us pause and is cause for profound concern,” stated the JAHLF authors.
“It is troubling that, just at a time when Catholic faithful most need firm and clear directions in order to resist the prevailing secular trends, the Holy See could have hosted a meeting in which opinions, which overtly contradict Catholic teaching, were treated as worthy opinions and even placed on the same level as those which uphold the Church’s teaching. In this regard, it is also troubling that the central ethical and theological truths concerning death, dying, and suffering were markedly underrepresented,” they added.
The authors state that the material presented during the PAV conference “could easily cause great confusion among health care professionals, jurists, and politicians, as well as among the clergy and lay faithful.”
“For all these reasons, we, the members of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and The Family, proceed to publish the following statement concerning some of the central ethical and theological issues involved in conscientious objection, palliative medicine, terminal sedation, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide,” they add.
The authors go on to set forth faithfully Catholic positions on controversial topics such as conscientious objection, abortion and euthanasia referral, and others.
“Seeking to impose on a doctor the duty to perform abortions or euthanasia (or, alternatively, to leave the medical profession or a given hospital), or to impose on him the duty to refer a woman to an abortionist, is gravely sinful and a direct violation of his inalienable human dignity and freedom of conscience, ” they state.
“The same also applies to the case where a pro-life physician is claimed to be obliged to refer a patient (who requests physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia) to a colleague who would perform such acts. Not only is the pro-life physician not obliged to refer a patient to a colleague who would perform intrinsically wrong acts, he is also absolutely morally forbidden to do so,” they continue.
“Not only is the pro-life physician not obliged to refer a patient to a colleague who would perform intrinsically wrong acts, he is also absolutely morally forbidden to do so,” they add.
The authors revealed the fallacy behind the argument of “moral autonomy” to justify euthanasia and assisted suicide.
“It is held that, as long as the victim consents to the act by which a third party will kill him, the act would not be immoral. Underlying such a thesis is the assertion that the human will is the source of morality, and/or the claim that nobody can suffer injustice voluntarily,” they state.
One can hardly imagine a worse perversion of moral truth and natural right than the idea that a person has a right to demand that other persons commit the crime to murder him. Nobody has any right whatsoever to demand from society to assist him to commit a crime against himself, or to oblige others to commit the crime of murdering him. Quite the contrary, the others and the State, in virtue of their true moral autonomy, a moral autonomy subjected to the truth, have the absolute moral duty to reject such a request.
The authors state that patients at the end of life who want to end their lives should be treated as a “vulnerable person” who is subjected to “undue pressures” during the “weakest, saddest and scariest time” of their lives.
The authors praise “good palliative care as pain-relief and stress-relief for all patients including the seriously ill care” as “an integral part of medicine at all times.” They warn of a perverted kind of palliative care that is really an “instrument of overt or covert euthanasia.”
“Acting under the guise of “patient autonomy,” or setting “goals of care,” patients are strongly encouraged to execute advance directives which authorize withholding of medical treatment and even of nutrition and hydration,” they state.
The authors also warned about “terminal sedation” which they say is used to “avoid pain” but which in fact “deprives the patients of consciousness until they die.” This “euphemism for euthanasia” often entails hastening death when “tranquilizers and painkillers are administered in excessively high dosage.”
The authors conclude that the “meaning of death holds the secret for the meaning of life.”
“Therefore, any consideration of death in the light of human dignity must take into consideration that the avoidance of pain can neither be the only nor the most important response to terminal illness,” they state.
“The religious dimension must have a central role in the holistic care of patients with terminal illnesses,” they add.