Reader Mail

Papal declaration on euthanasia

In his Nov. 18 article, “Slippery slope of doctor-assisted euthanasia,” professor Peter Singer criticizes the Catholic Church’s opposition to euthanasia, stressing that neither Pius XII — address to the Congress of the Italian Anesthesiological Society, 1957 — nor the Vatican’s Declaration on Euthanasia, 1980, place any emphasis “on the importance of obtaining the voluntary and informed consent of patients, where possible, before shortening their lives.”

Since Thomas Clark (Nov. 27 letter, “Caring for patients near death”) has abundantly shown the falseness of this statement regarding the declaration, let me present two quotations of what Pius XII said: (1) “Anesthesia against the explicit will of the dying person would be evidently illicit” and (2) “If clear medical indications advise the use of anesthesia, if the doses given do not exceed the allowed quantity, if the intensity and duration is carefully measured and the patient agrees, then there is nothing against it: the anesthesia is morally licit.”

It seems unbelievable that a professor, especially of ethics, at an American university would use secondhand, simplified information, especially in this time and age, when you can find a source through the Internet in less than a couple of hours. It seems to me that Singer would do much better checking his sources and deepening his arguments.

jaime castaneda