Q. 1. What is the Catholic Church's position on Euthanasia?
A. 1. First, it is necessary to understand what Euthanisia means. Euthanasia is "an act or omission which of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering." Such an action is always forbidden. [Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2277] It is morally wrong to deny someone the basic necessities of life in order to let a person die, often in order to ease pain.
"The Catholic position is that the person retains a right to nutrition and hydration until the body rejects it, especially in cases of terminal illness." (Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart)
Doctors cannot and should not be given the right to decide who can live and who must die. Such a power can and will be abused for financial reasons and/or to supply organs to others who need them.
In his speech of March 20, 2004, Pope John Paul affirmed the church and the Catholic health ministry's abiding commitment to the inviolable dignity of human persons no matter their physical or medical condition and reminded us of our responsibility never to abandon the sick or dying.
As such, feeding tubes and hydration for patients in a vegetative state are morally obligatory. Catholics are not bound to obey a drawn-up "living will" in which a person specifically request no extraordinary treatment to keep him/her alive. To participate in the denying of the basic necessities for life, a person becomes an accessory to murder, over and above assisting someone to commit suicide. Both of these, murder and suicide, are mortal sins against God who is the Creator of life.