Photo: ute grabowsky / imago images / photothek
The Vatican has reiterated its rejection of euthanasia and assisted suicide and wants to refuse the sacraments of death to those affected in the future.
This emerges from a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on end-of-life measures approved by Pope Francis.
It states that patients who wanted to die by euthanasia or assisted suicide should no longer be granted the sacraments of communion, anointing and confession in the future.
According to the guidelines of the Catholic Church, anyone who has decided "for this serious immoral act" and adheres to the decision cannot receive the sacraments.
There can be exceptions if a priest is convinced that the dying person has changed his mind.
Even if the patient is unconscious and one can accept repentance, he may receive the sacraments.
Euthanasia is a "crime against human life", an "inherently evil act, in every situation and under all circumstances," it says.
The Vatican interprets the wish of the seriously ill after death not as a request for euthanasia, but as a "painful call for love and help".
A sick person "in the last stage of life has the right to be helped, cared for, loved".
But it is legitimate "to forego healing attempts that could only bring about a weak and painful extension of life".
The reason for the letter was the wish of the Vatican to clarify its position on questions about the end of life, as civil law around the world is becoming increasingly permissive with regard to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The Vatican had already criticized euthanasia for minors in the past.
Last year, representatives of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious communities warned against an increase in "killing by mercy" and took a stand against it.
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fek / dpa / AFP