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Pontifical Academy for Life releases ‘lexicon’ for end-of-life discussions

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Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. / Credit: Walter Breitenmoser/CNA

CNA Staff, Jul 5, 2024 / 13:10 pm (CNA).

The Pontifical Academy for Life has released a guide that it says will help the faithful in discussing the “religious and moral ethical implications” surrounding euthanasia, assisted suicide, and other controversial end-of-life topics.

The Vatican Publishing House released the brief booklet on July 2, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a press release. The pontifical academy “distributed the booklet to every bishop in Italy,” with the book as of yet available only in Italian.

The Vatican publisher on its website describes the document as a “little end-of-life lexicon,” one that offers “a series of explanatory and in-depth entries” in order to foster “a language understandable even to the uninitiated” regarding end-of-life matters.

The document is meant to “[help] those who are trying to disentangle these issues,” in part by avoiding “that component of disagreement that depends on an inaccurate use of the notions implied in the discourse.”

The topics “are presented through the lens of Catholic understanding and are connected by several fundamental tenets, such as the Christian meaning of life, death, freedom, responsibility, and care,” the USCCB said in its release.

The bishops said the guide covers a variety of issues including comas, palliative care, pain management, euthanasia, organ donation, and “artificial nutrition and hydration,” among other matters.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia — who serves as the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life — urged the faithful to pursue “heartfelt and in-depth dialogue” on life issues rather than “prepackaged and partisan ideologies.”

The Catholic Church in recent years has taken strong stances against government policies such as euthanasia that devalue human life.

Bishops in FranceIreland, and the U.S. have urged the defeat of numerous euthanasia and assisted suicide proposals.

Pope Francis has similarly urged respect for life instead of euthanasia, calling on the faithful to “accompany people toward death, but not provoke death or facilitate assisted suicide.”

“You don’t play with life, neither at the beginning nor at the end. It is not played with!” he told journalists last year.


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