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Quadriplegic Priest Challenges a Pro-Euthanasia Film (Part 2)

Interview With Father Luis de Moya

PAMPLONA, Spain, SEPT. 14, 2004 (Zenit) - A quadriplegic priest and doctor warns that a recent film, "Out at Sea," is "an attempt to trivialize euthanasia" in order to "prepare the ground for its forthcoming legalization" in Spain.

Father Luis de Moya shared his concern about the film with us in this interview. Part 1 appeared Monday.

The film uses the story of Ramón Sampedro, who was also a quadriplegic as the result of an accident, who took his life in 1998. A year and a half before his suicide, Father de Moya visited him personally.

Here, the priest warns about the possible consequences of legalized euthanasia in Spain.

Q: There are people who commit suicide and the motives are very different. Do you think that Ramón Sampedro's case is used simply as an apology for euthanasia? After all, he was not a terminal patient but someone who had no desire to live in his circumstances.

Father de Moya: In my opinion, it seems very clear that his sad story is used in an attempt to trivialize euthanasia and in that way to prepare the terrain for its forthcoming legalization. I don't intend to invest one euro in the film and I recommend the same to others, unless they wish to invest in the viewing of an articulated and sentimental cascade of lies.

To administer death at a patient's request might seem at first and superficially an act of the greatest respect for his freedom. This position is upheld by quite a few supporters of euthanasia.

However, it only seems logical if animal life is at our disposition. In fact, we treat the other as an animal when we allow ourselves to put an end to his life -- despite the fact it is his will -- like the typical racehorse with a broken leg, which will never be able to be the same.

However, in the end, we consent to someone's wishes only when they are right, not otherwise. And to wish to die at all costs is never morally right.

Q: Are you worried about the impact the film might have, especially on the 35,000 paraplegics, quadriplegics and the severely disabled who live in Spain?

Father de Moya: That is not what worries me. The severely disabled, just like the handicapped in general, have very mature convictions about life and its meaning. They will not be influenced by the film.

I am worried, rather, by its influence on society in general. The great majority of citizens, removed in principle from the difficulty and pain of a terminal life, imbued by the falsehood that saturates the whole story [film director Alejandro] Amenábar tells, might conclude that euthanasia is the most reasonable option for cases such as Sampedro's.

Q: What consequences do you foresee of an eventual regulation of euthanasia in Spain?

Father de Moya: If euthanasia is legalized in Spain, I imagine that in short order there will be "specialized" centers, as in other countries. They will be, in the end, similar to abortion clinics like Dator [in Madrid], in which, also, only deaths take place.

The insecurity of chronic patients and of the elderly, who are no longer regarded as valuable, will force them to flee to other countries as, for example, the Dutch do.

Let's not forget that official studies show, specifically in the Netherlands, that one-third of deaths by euthanasia take place without the consent of the patient.

There are studies, such as that of professor José Miguel Serrano Ruiz-Calderón of Madrid's Complutense University, [entitled] "Euthanasia and Dependent Life," which show the high degree of vulnerability before the law suffered by those who depend on others to live. And this happens no matter how strict the law seems to be.

A favorable compensation, apart from the convenience of not having to care for the disabled, who might be missed in some cases, is, above all, the important budgetary savings of pensions, which the state no longer has to pay.

Q: It is not necessary to be a believer to be one of the many persons with severe physical limitations who clutch at life and struggle to improve it. What does faith add to a person who is sick or disabled?

Father de Moya: In fact, there are many nonbelievers with human ideals and with important achievements in life. However, because of his faith, the Christian can give very singular relevance to his disability and the added effort implied in the sole fact of living in society.

The person of faith is able to look at the redeeming Cross of Christ present in a singular way in his life and, therefore, is able to value the meaning of his suffering. A Christian is optimistic. Supported by the power and goodness of God his Father he is not afraid of life or death.

Q: No one is free of limitations or of the possibility of losing his capacities, of being deprived of his senses, and also those limitations imposed by old age itself. Are we afraid to live?

Father de Moya: We are afraid of pain, inseparable by definition from life. We would like human life to begin, without any suffering at all, and then, to conform to our vagrant tastes.

This desire for sentient good is good, normal and connatural to man. Simple human reason, and even more so faith, teach us, however, that material goods do not have the capacity to satisfy men.

But there is a whole ideological current, well-known and dominant in large sectors of society, that tells us in a thousand ways that the sentient is enough to be completely happy if it fits one's personal preferences. Such persons are, logically, the supporters of euthanasia.

Q: What are the most important "paralyses" that man and society suffer today?

Father de Moya: Perhaps never more than today has there been so much talk of love and I don't know if at other times its real meaning was more ignored.

When love is identified with practical effects of feeling and pleasure; when all suffering is meant to be avoided; when love and suffering are regarded as incompatible, contradictory; then the "folly" of the love of "Christ crucified, scandal for the Jews, folly for the Gentiles" is impossible for many today, as it was 20 centuries ago.

"But for those who are called, Jews and Greeks, it is the power and wisdom of God. Because God's folly is wiser than men, and God's weakness is stronger than men." This is how St. Paul expressed it, as I said, 2,000 years ago.

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Keywords

quadriplegic, euthanasia, morality, Catholic, Bishop

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