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Pope says euthanasia distorts medical ethics

Pope John Paul has branded euthanasia a distortion of medical ethics, saying on Friday that it's not up to doctors to decide "who can live and who must die".

But while condemning euthanasia, the Pope said terminally ill patients have the right to refuse medicine and therapy that prolongs their lives artificially without hope of recovery.

The Pope's words, read in a major address to Catholic health workers attending a Vatican conference, come at a time when several countries are debating euthanasia laws.

"Euthanasia is among the dramas of an ethic that presumes to establish who can live and who must die," he said.

The Pope, who himself suffers from debilitating Parkinson's disease, said even if euthanasia is sometimes motivated by "badly understood" compassion or an attempt to preserve human dignity, it was morally unacceptable because it suppresses human life.

Euthanasia was an issue in the US presidential debate and a number of countries in Europe are preparing legislation to regulate it.

"Compassion, when devoid of the willingness to confront suffering and stand by those who are suffering, puts an end to life where it aims to end pain, thus distorting the ethical statutes of medical science," he said.

Euthanasia is permitted in some European countries such as Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Belgian lawmakers want to expand its legislation to include children and teenagers.

Euthanasia Distorts Medical Ethics, Pope Says (Reuters 12/11/04)

Pope Affirms Dignity of Human Being Until Sickness and Old Age (Zenit 12/11/04)
Euthanasia does not redeem persons from suffering, it suppresses them (Catholic News Agency 12/11/04)
Scientific research must not violate the "intangibility" of every human being, says Pope (Catholic News Agency 12/11/04)
Pope Decries 'Grave Crisis' of Values (Associated Press/ 12/11/04)
The Holy Father receives in audience participants at International Conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral care of the healthcare workers and the sick on the topic: "Palliative treatment" (Fides 12/11/04)
Pope supports painkillers for terminally ill, warns on euthanasia (Catholic News Service 12/11/04)
Medicine must serve life, Pope says (Catholic World News 12/11/04)
Scientific research must not ignore intangibility of person (Vatican Information Service 12/11/04)
Medicine must always be at the service of life (Vatican Information Service 12/11/04)
Critical conscience to discern meaning of life and history (Vatican Information Service 12/11/04)
Vatican conference studies two extremes of 'aggressive therapy' and 'euthanasia' ( 14/11/04)
Pope Urges Greater Christian Harmony (The Guardian/Associated Press 12/11/04)
John L. Allen: The Year of the Eucharist (National Catholic Reporter 12/11/04)
Pope Encourages Portugal to Form a Critical Conscience (Zenit 12/11/04)
John Paul II Presides at Mass for Deceased Cardinals and Bishops (Zenit 12/11/04)
Pope Receives Relics of St. Augustine (Zenit 12/11/04)
Forming critical conscience is "greatest cultural challenge of our times," says Pope (Catholic News Agency 12/11/04)
Pope: 'Stumbling stones' divide Christians (Associated Press/MSNBC 12/11/04)

Vatican to promote the use of painkillers (CathNews 10/11/04)
Vatican to promote the use of painkillers (Mail & Guardian Online/Associated Press 9/11/04)
Experts in palliative cures meet in the Vatican (Vatican Information Service 9/11/04)
Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care

15 Nov 2004