OTTAWA (Churchmilitant.com) - The archbishop of Ottawa, Ontario, says his priests may deny the sacrament of extreme unction to people seeking to end their lives by assisted suicide.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast explained last week that a person who chooses suicide doesn't have the proper disposition needed to receive the sacrament.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the sacrament is administered to those in danger of death from sickness or old age, as well as those on the point of death. A necessary part of the reception of the sacrament — which includes anointing with holy oil, confession and the reception of the Holy Eucharist — is true contrition for sins.
Asking to be killed is gravely disordered and is a rejection of the hope that the rite calls for and tries to bring into the situation. … But we cannot be forgiven pre-emptively for something we are going to do — like ask for assisted suicide when suicide is a grave sin.
He isn't saying, however, that a priest can't be present when someone medically commits suicide. He encourages priests to be present so they can pray for the person that he may "turn away from it."
The bishops of the province of Alberta recently released a joint statement condemning the participation of any Catholic in assisted suicide, calling it "morally wrong. …[N]o Catholic may advocate for, or participate in any way, whether by act or omission, in the intentional killing of another human being either by assisted suicide or euthanasia."
Assisted suicide was decriminalized by Canada's Supreme Court last year. Since then "assisted death" has been heavily promoted, with some even wanting to allow it for minors and the mentally ill.