As Catholics we should be well acquainted with the idea of a happy death. Indeed it is something that many of us pray for on a regular basis.
For us it means having made a good confession, received holy viaticum and been anointed with the sacrament of extreme unction. This is one reason why the modern word ‘euthenasia’, from the Greek, ‘good death’ is so misleading. No Catholic who directly takes their own life or has someone assist them in taking their life truly dies a happy or good death. This is such a central part of our Catholic faith that it is still preached today and only last month a document, reiterating the traditional position that assisted suicide is intrinsically evil, was issued by Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.
A Bill to introduce “assisted suicide” was put before the Oireachtas last week by a member of the Communist People Before Profit party and this week is being debated and voted upon. There has been very little coverage in the media as the ongoing story about Covid-19 continues to dominate. As pointed out already, the vocabulary used to promote assisted suicide is crucial and insidious. They talk of “dying with dignity” and “controlling” the way we die. This is language that only people who have lost faith in God would dare use.
This is also reminiscent of the “softening up” that has been evident prior to the referendum campaigns of 2015 and 2018. Stories designed to pull at the heartstrings, to make us leave aside our reason, to ignore God’s Law and adopt false compassion. The media coverage that this has received has been mostly positive, stories of people with degenerative conditions or those with painful diseases predominate with little or no coverage of people with these conditions who find strength or comfort in their loved ones much less their religious faith.
No Catholic can ever support euthanasia or assisted suicide. We can pray for a happy death and pray that those who are now suffering may use well the remaining time on earth that God has given us to prepare for their own death and to offer up their suffering.
Saint Joseph, patron of the dying, pray for us.