"Mercy Killing" -- in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or
handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as
2277 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.
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.
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.
2279 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.