A Bishop-Physician Critiques Euthanasia

Klaus Küng Calls It a "Mistaken View of Compassion"

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VIENNA, Austria, NOV. 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A request for euthanasia is often a cry for help, Austrian Bishop Klaus Küng told the Van Swieten Scientific Congress here.



According to the SIR agency, Bishop Küng of Feldkirch, himself a medical doctor, said, "A society that kills the disabled, the sick, the elderly and the dying is inhuman."

While concepts such as "autonomy" and "freedom of choice" are invoked in favor of euthanasia, Bishop Küng observed that "without faith in God, many succumb to the temptation to shorten or put an end to life when overcome by painful experiences."

"Only faith in God and in life eternal can reveal human life, from conception until natural death, as an opportunity for development, even including pain," Bishop Küng explained in his address Nov. 1.

"Assisting in suicide can never be a service of love," because "to kill is always contrary to love, and involves a mistaken view of compassion. Real compassion involves care," the bishop emphasized.

In any case, the use of extraordinary means to preserve life is not considered an obligation by the Church. Rather, the bishop said, first place should be given to "palliative medicine," directed "to making pain more bearable in the final stages of illness" and "to offering patients human companionship and, for believers, religious support, as well."

In this way, one can "help the dying, those most conscious of the proximity of death, to arrange their affairs, attain inner peace, bid farewell to their relatives and friends, and prepare themselves for the final encounter with God," Bishop Küng concluded.