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Canadian archbishop: no anointing for people planning assisted suicide

February 22, 2016

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa has told his priests that they should not administer the Sacrament of Anointing to people who plan an assisted suicide, since their desire to end their own lives shows that they lack "the proper disposition for the anointing of the sick."

The archbishop said that if a priest is called to attend to someone planning suicide, he should pray with him and seek to dissuade him from the act. In those circumstances, he said, by refusing to anoint the individual the priest may be helping to drive home the gravity of the action. He added that the sacrament includes absolution, but this cannot be given pre-emptively, to forgive a sin that is still being planned.

Archbishop Prenderast observed: "Asking your priest to be present to something that is is direct contradiction to our Catholic values is not fair to the pastor."

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  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 22, 2016 9:04 PM ET USA

    This needs to be clearly pronounced by Rome and not left up to individual Bishops. In such situations it would be both mockery of the Sacrament of the Sick and an acceptance of assisted suicide.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Feb. 22, 2016 7:54 PM ET USA

    The Church as a whole should take this position. You can't have mercy on those who refuse it by their plans.

  • Posted by: unum - Feb. 22, 2016 5:58 PM ET USA

    Somehow, the Canadian version of "the love of Christ" doesn't seem to convey the full meaning of what Scripture or Jesus taught. Scripture deals with judgement by saying "judge not, lest you be judged" and clearly leaves the judging to God. And, Jesus admonition to "love one another as I have loved you" brings to mind His crucifixion, not condemnation.