Pope urges French politicians to reject euthanasia

Archbishop Vincent Dollman of Cambrai, France, presents gifts to Pope Francis during a meeting Oct. 21, 2022, in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace. The Archbishop led a pilgrimage of mayors and elected officials to the Vatican. (CNS Photo/Vatican Media)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As France begins a national debate on euthanasia, Pope Francis has urged politicians in the country’s northern region to reject the “throwaway culture” and focus instead on providing care and relief to those nearing the end of their lives.

“I dare to hope that on such essential questions, the debate can be conducted in truth to accompany life to its natural end and not to get caught up in this throwaway culture that is everywhere,” the pope said. October 21 during his meeting with the mayors. and other local, regional and national elected officials making a pilgrimage sponsored by the Archdiocese of Cambrai.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is due to meet Pope Francis on October 24, announced in early September the start of a national discussion on the authorization of euthanasia in certain cases; he called for local debates, nationwide consultations with healthcare workers and discussions with political parties to reach a decision in 2023.

Pope Francis began his address to pilgrims by noting how much the region and the people of Cambrai had suffered from the closure of coal mines, steel mills and textile factories, and he urged officials to pay particular attention to the poor and needy in the region.

“Welcome and attention” must be the guiding principles of their public policies, the pope told them.

As northern France welcomes thousands of immigrants, Pope Francis has urged them to welcome “the most disadvantaged people, mainly migrants – and you know how crucial this issue is and how much I care. heart”.

But he said he was also thinking of people with disabilities. “They need more structures to facilitate their lives and those of their loved ones and, above all, to show the respect that is due to them.”

Policies to promote their inclusion should also focus on helping them find jobs, he said. “It is more than ever necessary to continue to set access to work as a priority objective – for all!

But the heart of the pope’s remarks concerned the care of the sick and the elderly, especially at the very end of life.

Elderly people in nursing homes and those who are dying, he said, need to be accompanied and given palliative care.

“Caregivers, by their very nature, are meant to provide care and relief,” the pope said. If it is not always possible to treat a patient, “we cannot ask caregivers to kill their patients, which is a bit like the program of disposable culture”.

Pope Francis repeated what he told a French journalist on the flight home from his trip to Kazakhstan in mid-September: the more people find justification for killing someone, the more they kill.

“It’s a mathematical progression,” he said.

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