Colombian bishop implores ill woman to not be euthanized

Walter Sanchez Silva   By Walter Sanchez Silva for CNA

Credit: sfam_photo/Shutterstock.

Riohacha, Colombia, Oct 7, 2021 / 18:01 pm (CNA).

The head of the Colombian bishops’ Commission for the Promotion and Defense of Life on Wednesday addressed a video message to Martha Liria Sepúlveda Campo, a 51-year-old woman who is sick but not terminally so, urging her to desist from her decision to be euthanized.

“As [a] pastor of the Catholic Church, with great respect and affection, I want to tell my sister Martha that she is not alone, that the God of life always accompanies us,” Bishop Francisco Antonio Ceballos Escobar of Riohacha said in an Oct. 6 message.

He assured her “that your affliction can find a transcendent meaning if it becomes a call to Love that heals, Love that renews, Love that forgives.”

Sepúlveda, 51, has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which last year made her unable to move her legs.

CaracolTV broadcast a report Oct. 3 in which the Medellin resident said she was “peaceful” about her decision to be euthanized, and that she is “a Catholic person, I consider myself a very much a believer in God, but, I repeat, God does not want to see me suffer and I believe no one to suffer. No father wants to see his children suffer.”

The report states that Sepúlveda’s euthanization is scheduled Oct. 10.

Sepúlveda would be the first woman in a non-terminal state to die after the Constitutional Court of Colombia’s July ruling that allowed non-terminally ill patients to be euthanized.

In his video, Bishop Ceballos said: “Martha, I invite you to calmly reflect on your decision, hopefully, if circumstances allow it, away from harassment by the media that have not hesitated to take your pain and that of your family and use it as a kind of propaganda for euthanasia, in a country deeply marked by violence.”

He then recalled the words of Benedict XVI in his Feb. 1, 2009 Angelus address: “the true response cannot be to put someone to death, however ‘kindly’, but rather to witness to the love that helps people to face their pain and agony in a human way.”

The Colombian prelate encouraged the faithful to pray for and her family, to reconsider her decision.

“To surround her in her reflection, I affectionately invite all Catholics to join in prayer for our sister Martha, for her son, for her relatives and for the professionals who are advising her, so that the God of Life, who is Supreme Love, would fill her with his mercy,” the bishop urged.

Bishop Ceballos also invited Sepúlveda to participate in the Oct. 9 Mass during which he will pray for her.

“I also invite Martha Liria to the Eucharist … in which we will pray for your life, so that the Lord, who took upon himself pain even unto death and a death on the cross, will give you the courage to accompany him to the same cross,” the prelate said.

In his message, the Bishop of Riohacha explained that “in accordance with our deepest Christian convictions, death cannot be the therapeutic answer to pain and suffering in any case.”

“Death caused by assisted suicide or euthanasia is not compatible with our interpretation of the dignity of human life, whereas the use of palliative care is,” he stressed.

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1 Comment

  1. A matter of correct terminology highlights the truth of the matter. “He [Bishop Ceballos] assured her that your affliction can find a transcendent meaning if it becomes a call to Love that heals, Love that renews, Love that forgives”. Well stated, better a personal visit. Videos are fine “accompaniment”, personal and direct is infinitely better. The reason is the truth of what Martha Sepúlveda requests. It’s not medical terminology euthanasia [which takes the edge off the reality]. Rather it’s physician assisted suicide. Ninth Circuit Compassion in Dying Plaintiffs v State of Washington Christine Gregoire, Attny Gen Defendants 1997 was the case intensely discussed at the medical center where as chief chaplain I lectured on the immoral nature of this form of suicide. Euthanasia initially referred to ending an unresponsive patients life. Generally the elderly comatose. Physician assisted suicide is a lethal procedure applied at the patient’s request. An example of current hypocrisy: “Euthanasia: A doctor is allowed by law to end a person’s life by a painless means, as long as the patient and their family agree. Assisted suicide: A doctor assists a patient to commit suicide if they request it” (Medical News Today). Can you cite the difference? Virtually all such cases are now listed as euthanasia, so that the more morally correct term suicide be avoided. If Bishop Caballos [unless there’s some inviolable quarantine in effect] were to visit Martha he would add the true Christlike dimension of pastoral care [in the bishop’s case, when I was sick you didn’t visit me], and would have the opportunity to explain to her that the request is to complete an act of suicide. Forbidden by the Church as serious sin. Bishops can no longer be distant and mealy mouthed now with the anticipated avalanche of such requests, patients believing it’s more a medical procedure than killing oneself.

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