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Pope Francis: to doctors and dentists, no to euthanasia and assisted suicide. Do not use medicine to support a patient’s “possible willingness to die”

Foto Alessandro Feltre

“Faced with any change in medicine and in the society you have identified, it is important that the doctor does not lose sight of the uniqueness of each patient, with his dignity and his fragility. A man or a woman to be accompanied with conscience, intelligence and heart, especially in the most serious situations”. Pope Francis made this appeal as he received in audience the National Federation of the Orders of Doctors and Dental Surgeons, stressing that “we can and must reject the temptation – also induced by legislative changes – to use medicine to support a possible willingness to die of the patient, providing assistance to suicide or directly causing death by euthanasia”. “These are hasty ways of dealing with choices that are not, as they might seem, an expression of the person’s freedom, when they include the discarding of the patient as a possibility, or false compassion in the face of the request to be helped to anticipate death”, Pope Francis warned, citing an excerpt from the New Charter for Health Care Workers: “There is no right to dispose arbitrarily of one’s life, so no doctor can become an executive guardian of a non-existent right”. Finally, he recalled the words of Saint John Paul II, for whom the responsibility of health care workers “today is greatly increased. Its deepest inspiration and strongest support lie in the intrinsic and undeniable ethical dimension of the health-care profession, something already recognized by the ancient and still relevant Hippocratic Oath, which requires every doctor to commit himself to absolute respect for human life and its sacredness”.

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