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Chapter 29. Fifth Commandment: Promote the Culture of Life • 399

• Many physicians take the Hippocratic Oath, by which they commit

themselves to do no harm. The relationship between a physician and

a patient should be marked by compassion. Physicians should not

be the killers of their patients. It would perversely affect their self-

understanding and would reduce their desire to look for cures for

disease, if killing instead of curing were to become the option.

• We should not allow the elderly and infirm to be pressured to con-

sent to their own deaths by assisted suicide or euthanasia.

• We should protect the poor and minorities from exploitation. Pain

is a significant factor in the desire for physician-assisted suicide. The

poor and the minorities often do not have the resources for the alle-

viation of pain.

• We should protect all people with disabilities from societal indiffer-

ence, antipathy, and any bias against them.

• We should never present suicide as a socially acceptable solution to

life’s difficulties.

The Pontifical Academy for Life on March 8, 1999, issued a state-

ment that included the following comments about euthanasia and the

alleviation of the pain of the dying:

With absolute conviction we vigorously reject any kind of eutha-

nasia, understood as recourse to those actions or omissions

which are intended to cause a person’s death in order to pre-

vent suffering and pain. At the same time, we want to express

our human and Christian closeness to all the sick, especially to

those who know they are approaching the end of their earthly

life and are preparing to meet God, our beatitude. We ask that

these brothers and sisters of ours be spared the “therapeutic

neglect” which consists in denying them the treatment and care

that alleviate suffering. Nor should this treatment and care be

lacking for financial reasons.

Greater efforts are being made today to provide patients whose

medical conditions cause great pain with medications or treatments

that relieve their suffering. People are being encouraged to use advanced

directives to make sure that medical treatment and end-of-life care is