Brian Holdsworth is a young Catholic, self-described as a “creative professional and struggling thinker” who “makes videos on topics that [he] finds interesting.” He recently made a video on Euthanasia and Assisted suicide, which we share here. As you can imagine, it is generating a lot of discussion.

Euthanasia is, understandably, an emotive and sensitive issue, with both sides of the debate claiming compassion as their motivation for or against the topic. But what is the truth that goes hand-in-hand with compassion? 

Watch Brian’s video as he unpacks the complexities around the legalization of euthanasia.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that:

Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”56 (2258 ) 

It also says that:

“Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.” (2276)

“Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.” (2277)

“Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.”

Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.” (2278)

Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.” (2279)

If you’re struggling to understand what you think about assisted suicide, or you don’t know how to put into words the Church’s stance against it, try also watching this excellent video from Bishop Robert Barron.

In this video, Bishop Robert Barron approaches the subject of assisted suicide from a careful and well thought-out angle, which may at first seem unrelated, but is an excellent explanation for how a society can arrive at accepting assisted suicide.

Follow-Up Video from Brian Holdsworth

How do you approach this topic and what has helped you understand the Church’s teaching on it? Let us know in the comments below.