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Paris -- A conference for priests

What should be done when a sick person asks that his suffering be ended? This question was the focus for a colloquium for priests held at the parish of St. Pierre du Gros Caillou on Monday, November 24, 2003.

Frederic Lapies, professor of philosophy, spoke on the corporality and temporality of the human person, and the need to accept one’s place in the order of things. By accepting suffering, a person experiences his identity and his limits, and finds happiness. On the contrary, if he refuses to recognize these limits, he can be a victim of the dangerous ideology of technology that treats life as a merely instrumental reality.

Msgr. Jacques Suaudeau, a theologian and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, highlighted the Church’s moral teachings in this area and explained that helping a person to die never means to kill. To help one die with dignity, he said, means offering a comforting presence and listening, treating the person as a human being and not an object.

Finally, Professor Lucien Israel, a cancer specialist, said that in his long career as a doctor he had received only one request for euthanasia from dying patients. He praised the doctor’s mission as that of defending the person, right to the end.

Romana, No. 37, July-December 2003, p. 83-84.