Archbishop Paglia clarifies stance on assisted suicide
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia reiterates his opposition to "euthanasia" and assisted suicide and clarifies remarks about the legal status of the practice in Italy.
By Christopher Wells
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has clarified earlier remarks concerning the legal status of medically assisted suicide in Italy, insisting that he fully adheres to the Church’s magisterially teaching opposing the practice.
“Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in full conformity with the Church’s Magisterium, reaffirms his ‘No’ to euthanasia and assisted suicide.”
The clarification, in a statement issued by the Pontifical Academy, comes in response to “incorrect interpretations” of the Archbishop’s thoughts following a speech given by the PAV president last week in Perugia, Italy. In a speech devoted to the entire subject of end-of-life care, the Archbishop referenced the specific legal situation of assisted suicide in Italy.
Assisted suicide in Italy a crime
In 2019, Italy’s Constitutional Court ruled that in some cases and under certain conditions it is possible to request the indirect help of doctors to end one’s own life. Effectively, while assisted suicide remains a crime, it would no longer be penalized if specific conditions are met.
In his address last week, Archbishop Paglia explained that it is important that assisted suicide remain a crime in Italian law, which the Constitutional Court sentence recognizes. However, because the Court has asked Parliament to legislate concerning the issue, the Archbishop gave his opinion that a “legislative initiative” along the lines proposed by the Senate – maintaining medically-assisted suicide as a crime while de-penalizing it in certain circumstances – might be a possible solution to the legal question.
The statement from the PAV insists that any legal compromise would in no way involve a change in the moral stance towards assisted suicide.
No one left alone
The statement goes on to say that “any further elaboration is uncalled for,” stating, “On the scientific and cultural level, Archbishop Paglia has always supported the need for accompaniment of the sick in the final phase of life, using palliative care and loving personal attention, to ensure that no one is left to face alone the illness and suffering, and difficult decisions, that the end of life brings on.”