Vatican: Cracks in the Right to Life

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The newspaper Civilta Cattolica has just published a column calling for support for a bill giving a restricted framework to euthanasia, with the aim of avoiding a worse evil, in this case the generalization of assisted suicide. A position that creates surprise, when we know that the review is supposed to be run from the Vatican.

Proponents of the culture of life cannot believe it. The blow came unexpectedly, from behind.

In the latest issue of Civilta Cattolica, Fr. Carlo Casalone – doctor, former provincial of the Society of Jesus, member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University – pleads for the adoption of a bill strictly regulating euthanasia.

A disturbing position, when we know that no issue of the famous Jesuit magazine can be published without first having received the initials of the Secretariat of State, the most powerful dicastery of the Vatican. To understand what is at stake here, it is necessary to place the question in its transalpine context.

Italy currently punishes assisted suicide with five to 12 years in prison, but in 2019 the Constitutional Court introduced an exception for “patients kept alive by treatment.” . . and suffering from an irreversible pathology, a source of physical and psychological suffering that they consider intolerable, while being fully capable of making free and conscious decisions.

A decision that had the effect of an earthquake in a country with a strong Catholic tradition. However, the Court left a legal vacuum by declaring illegal an article of the penal code punishing people who assist in assisted suicide, while listing the conditions for it to be legal.

Taking this vagueness as a pretext, the Luca Coscioni association launched, in 2021, an online petition in favor of a referendum for the legalization of euthanasia in Italy, collecting more than 750,000 signatures, greatly exceeding the threshold of 500. 000 signatures required. The referendum could take place in the first months of 2022, if no law is passed by then.

Because in the meantime, the Italian Parliament began, on December 13, 2020, the examination of a bill on the decriminalization of assisted suicide. Supported by the center-left coalition in power, the text comes up against opposition from right-wing parties and pro-life associations.

This is where Civilta Cattolica comes in: “Given the situation in the country and the judgment of the Constitutional Court [in 2019], it seems important to us that a law be enacted. … Although values ​​that are difficult to reconcile with one another come into play here, it does not seem desirable to us to procrastinate by burying the bill”, writes Fr. Casalone.

For some, this new positioning of an information organ run from the Vatican tends to show that the host of the Maison Sainte-Marthe is in charge: is it not Fr. Spadaro, director of the Jesuit magazine, one of the sovereign pontiff’s relatives?

On the side of Civilta Cattolica, they defend themselves from any unconditional surrender to the promoters of the culture of death, saying that it would be a question of “making the text of the law less problematic by modifying the most harmful articles”, in other words of passing an “imperfect law” to prevent a worse evil.

For Fr. Casalone, burying the bill currently under consideration by Parliament would entail the risk of seeing a future referendum that “would favor the general expansion of assisted suicide”.

Perhaps the Jesuits of La Civilta Cattolica should be reminded that it is not morally permissible to perform an objectively immoral action – for a deputy to actively support a text legalizing suicide, even under certain restrictions – in order to avoid a worse evil.

On the side of the defenders of the right to life, there was no mistake: “this article is a provocation”, thunders Paola Binetti, senator on the right and numeraire of Opus Dei.

For his part, Massimo Gandolfini, neurosurgeon and director of the neuroscience service at the Brescia hospital, one of the spokespersons for the pro-life movement, evokes an “unacceptable capitulation”, on a “non-negotiable question such as that of the life”. ”

“I don’t understand how, in order to put an end to one evil, another would have to be committed; this idea is repugnant to me,” says the scientist.

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