Given the recent decriminalization of “medically assisted suicide” (SMA) in Colombia, the Catholic Church is clear: “We know that medicine has been created to defend, care for, guard and protect life, and not to cause death.”
Interviewed by ACI Prensa after the decision of the Constitutional Court that decriminalized medically assisted suicide, this May 12, Msgr. Francisco Antonio Ceballos Escobar, Bishop of Riohacha (Colombia) and president of the Conference’s Department for the Promotion and Defense of Life Episcopal Church of Colombia (CEC), also highlighted the responsibility of Catholics before people who are pushed to consider this practice.
“We have to be caregivers, we we have to be very close to these people who are sufferingto give them a word of encouragement, of encouragement and also to accompany them to a good death”, he expressed.
In a controversial decision, approved by six votes against three, the Constitutional Court decriminalized physician-assisted suicide. The difference between this and euthanasia is that in the SMA it is the same patient who is administered, with the help of a health agent, the substance that will cause death.
In euthanasia, it is the health professional who administers the drug to the patient.
The Episcopal Conference of Colombia rejected the decision of the Constitutional Court, assuring “based on the principle of human dignity, there is no ‘fundamental right to a dignified death,’ but rather the right to life.”
In his statements to ACI Prensa, Bishop Francisco Antonio Ceballos Escobar pointed out that “the bishops of the Catholic Church We call on the authorities of the country so that, being consistent with the inviolable value of human life, as enshrined in the Colombian Constitution in art. 11, the decisions that are made are aimed at their protection, defense and care, and not at their destruction.
The Colombian Prelate lamented that although “it is true that we are a deeply Catholic people”, in the country “we have legislators who deviate from these fundamental principles of our faith”.
“And more than the fundamental principles of faith, they deviate from the Colombian Constitution that in art. 11 defends life,” he said.
Archbishop Ceballos Escobar stressed that the Catholic Church also addresses “people who suffer, families and all human beings”, urging them to “reject the temptation” to “use medicine to produce death”.
The Prelate then said that both bishops and Catholic laity, both in Colombia and throughout the world, must be committed to “accompanying” people who suffer from diseases.
In that sense, he encouraged work to “try to mitigate the pain of these people who suffer in their bodies and, let’s say, in their souls.”
“They feel deep pain, sometimes because they feel alone and abandoned, sometimes because they are not assisted with palliative medications, and sometimes because they forget absolutely everything. So everything makes them feel like they are a burden to the same family,” he said.
The Bishop stressed that when the sick person is accompanied, assisted and prayed with, “surely he does not easily make a decision to end his existence.”
On the importance of Catholics having greater interference in the political life of our countries, Bishop Ceballos Escobar stressed that “fundamentally it is in our hands to choose suitable people, humanists, who defend human life from conception to death, it is a fundamental element that is in our hands”.
In addition to a Catholic conscience to vote, the Prelate stressed that a key element “is prayer.”
Catholics, he indicated, must “pray for legislators who are profoundly Christian and respectful of life”.
Finally, he pointed out that it is important for believers to “form ourselves in conscience.”
“I think that if we do not form an upright conscience, if we do not value the life of the human being, if we do not look for those elements that help us to dignify ourselves as people, we will easily fall before these temptations that the world with this culture of death is offering us. everywhere,” he said.