By Kathleen Gilbert

ROME, December 19, 2008 ( – Pope Benedict XVI yesterday expressed his “deepest concern” as Luxembourg draws near to adopting assisted suicide into law, which the Pope roundly condemned as contrary to true compassion.

“Political leaders, whose duty is to serve the good of man, as well as doctors and families should remember that ‘the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always evil from the moral point of view and can never be lawful,'” said the Pope, quoting the encyclical Evangelium Vitae. Benedict issued his remarks as he received the new ambassador to the Holy See from Luxembourg, Paul Duhr.

Luxembourg’s parliament on Thursday narrowly voted in favor of the euthanasia law, hours after the Pope voiced his opposition. The law has not yet been finalized, and will undergo further consideration and possible revision before it could be signed into law next year. If passed, it would make Luxembourg the third country in Europe to allow euthanasia, after Holland and Belgium.

The current draft of the law also includes improvements for palliative care, which the Pope called a contradictory addition to a law permitting doctors to end the lives of suffering patients rather than care for their needs. “Love and true compassion embark on another path,” he insisted.

“The request that arises from the heart of man in his supreme confrontation with suffering and death, especially when he feels the temptation to let himself be overcome by desperation, and feels lost to the point of wanting to disappear, is above all a petition for someone to accompany him and a call to greater solidarity and support in this test.

“This call can seem demanding, but it is the only one worthy of the human being, and it opens to new and deeper solidarity, which enriches and fortifies family and social bonds.”

The Pope encouraged the people of Luxembourg, a predominantly Catholic country, to follow the “path of humanization” in cooperation with the Church. Hopeful that the people of Luxembourg would be “faithful to Christian and humanistic roots of their nation and the shared interests of promoting the common good,” the Pope asked that they still “reaffirm the inviolability and grandeur of human life.”

(To see the full text of the Pope’s statement to the Luxembourg ambassador, go to:

At a conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry last month, the Pope urged doctors not to give in to the “temptation” of shortening the lives of patients, as euthanasia “appears as one of the more alarming symptoms of the culture of death that is advancing above all in the society of well-being.”

Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri instigated a furor weeks ago when he stated that his conscience would not allow him to sign into force a law permitting euthanasia. He later agreed to an amendment removing his power as head of state so that his signing would be mere ceremony, a move that the parliament approved.

See related article:

Grand Duke of Luxembourg Loses Veto Power After Threatening Veto of Euthanasia Law

Pope Warns Euthanasia is “Advancing Above All in Prosperous Societies”