For the Church, suicide is an unholy act.
In response to the “significant development” in assisted suicide in Switzerland in recent years, the Swiss Bishops’ Conference has issued pastoral guidelines for chaplains and pastoral workers giving sacraments.
The 30-page document was published at the end of the three-day meeting that was held at the begining of this month in Lugano, Switzerland.
The Swiss Bishops begin by reminding Catholics that “the concern of the Christian community for others, especially for the poor and those who suffer, has its roots in the mystery of Christ.”
However, they noted that for the Catholic Church, “suicide is, objectively, an unholy act.”
This act violates three duties: towards oneself, towards others and towards God.
“No sincere intention or circumstance would change this evil into good, nor justify it,” the bishops added.
“How, then, can we accompany people who are seeking assisted suicide or who decide to use it, and who at the same time ask for the sacraments?” the document asks.
First of all, helping a person at the last hour of his/her death is “a great Christian tradition of the Church,” the bishops said.
The pastoral agent finds himself confronted with a formidable ethical challenge. He must “take seriously” the desire for suicide and “maintain the hope” that this desire will reverse.
He must not exert “any pressure” on the person, but try to divert him “till the end” from his suicidal project.
He must approach “with great caution” the question of the gravity of sin, the bishops said.
The pastoral document proposes, in its last part, 10 concrete steps to help the victims with appropriate words and attitude.
In any case, the approach remains the same: “To enable terminally ill patients to see their lives and deaths in a new light, in the light of God,” the document stated.