“Assisted suicide is an absurdity,” Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life at the Vatican, told the Italian news service ANSA on Nov. 4. “Dignity is something different than putting an end to your own life.”
"Brittany Maynard's gesture is in itself to be condemned, but what happened in her conscience is not for us to know," said Msgr. Carrasco de Paula, whose office was established by St. Pope John Paul II to study and teach about the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death, and help foster a culture of life.
Maynard killed herself on Nov. 1, a date she had previously announced in a YouTube video, where she explained her decision to kill herself. On that Saturday, Maynard posted a final message on Facebook that partly read, “Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me. … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”
While condemning the act of suicide, the Vatican clarified that it was not judging the conscience of Brittany Maynard, meaning the complete motivation and factors for her decision rest with her and God.
“[W]hat happened in her conscience is not for us to know,” said the monsignor. “We always choose by seeking what is good, the problem is when we get it wrong. Conscience is like a sanctuary that cannot be entered. But let's reflect on the fact that if one day the project according to which all patients take their own life were to be fully realized, they would be totally abandoned.”
The Catholic Church teaches that, “The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death.” As for the issue of suicide, the Church states, “Suicide is seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity. It is forbidden by the fifth commandment.”
Furthermore, “If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.
“Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.”