29 Years Ago….

Twenty-nine years is, by most reckonings, a generation. If so, it is now almost exactly one generation since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued its Declaration on Euthanasia in 1980.

Of course, euthanasia contradicts the constant teaching of the Church and had already been condemned in a particularly moving passage in Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) in 1965:

Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practice them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator. (#27)

As the trend toward euthanasia grew in the latter part of the 20th century, John Paul II formally and solemnly condemned the practice in his 1995 encyclical, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae):

[I]n harmony with the Magisterium of my Predecessors and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. (#65)

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