Peruvian archbishop: No right to euthanasia; 'it's a crime'

In response to the recent decision of Peru's Supreme Court to permit euthanasia for Ana Estrada, a woman with an incurable disease, the archbishop of Piura in northern Peru, José Antonio Eguren, said "there's no right to dispose of the life of others" nor one's own life.

"There's no right to dispose of the life of others, there's no right to dispose of one's own life," the prelate wrote in a July 16 statement. "Euthanasia is a crime against life, which never loses its dignity. In addition, incurable is not synonymous with 'little value,' 'less dignity,' or 'un-careable.'"

The Peruvian Supreme Court upheld on July 14 the decision of a lower court to allow Estrada, who suffers from polymyositis, an incurable disease that has left her in a wheelchair, to put an end to her life through euthanasia.

According to Eguren, the Supreme Court's ruling "constitutes a usurpation of legislative functions."

"Euthanasia is unconstitutional, and it's also prohibited by the Civil Code, the Penal Code, and the General Law on Health No. 26842, which establishes that the life of the human being must be respected from its conception to its natural end -- i.e., death -- without the intervention of third parties or of the person himself," he explained.

The Peruvian prelate stressed that "human life is a nondisposable good, i.e., it's a fundamental right that is not susceptible to being disposed of at will."

"Human dignity is a value in itself and is not subject to a person's self-perception. In that regard, legalizing euthanasia is in practice legalizing suicide. Both in euthanasia and in abortion, there is an appeal to a misunderstood compassion in order to thus eliminate the greater good that is life," he pointed out.

The archbishop said that instead of promoting euthanasia, what should be promoted is providing "palliative medicine and being with the sick person, accompanying him, listening to him, making him feel loved and wanted."

"That's what can prevent loneliness, the fear of suffering and death, as well as the discouragement that this entails, which are the elements that are among the main causes today of requesting euthanasia or assisted suicide," he said.

Eguren said that "promoting at the present time an agenda of death (abortion and euthanasia) is absurd when we are coming out of the tragedy of a pandemic in which we have all witnessed the heroic struggle for life of the sick, family members, and health care personnel."

"I accompany with my prayer and closeness all those who are suffering the trial of sickness, so that in the midst of the pain and anguish that they have had to experience, they know how to open their hearts to faith, to the merciful love of God, as so many people have done who have gone through the mystery of pain and illness with their faith, finding in it the meaning to their sufferings," he concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.