BOGOTA, Colombia (CWN) – The Colombian Conference of Catholic bishops (CEC) May 26 energetically condemned “the embarrassing and absurd” approval of a law that makes this Latin American country the first to legalize euthanasia. Archbishop Alberto Giraldo, president of the bishop’s conference, said: “Such a law is a legal absurdity and a human monstrosity,” since “no one has the right to decide on the moment to terminate life, not even one’s own.”

The Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country, determined May 20 that physicians who provide a way to end life upon request of terminally ill patients would not go to jail, thus approving the practice of euthanasia.

Archbishop Giraldo’s first reaction was to describe the court’s decision as “Hitler’s way.” The archbishop recalled that Colombia’s bishops addressed the issue of euthanasia back in 1980. At that time the bishops said that “nobody can authorize the death of an innocent human being, either if it is a fetus, a child, an adult, an elderly person, or an ill person.”

Bishop Luis Agusto Castro, spokesman for the CEC added his comments that “(the Constitutional Court) has committed the absurdity of legalizing crime, since the person that practices euthanasia is a murderer and the one that requests it is suicidal.

“I believe too that this has bee a Hitler-style choice, since we will start with terminal patients, the elderly will follow, and then all the indigent that ate seen as useless by this society,” Bishop Castro said.

The position taken by the Colombian Catholic bishops adds more voices to the anti-euthanasia crusade. The issue is especially relevant in Holland and North America, where legislators have implemented or are considering measures to make the practice of assisted suicide more palatable to the ordinary citizen. Pro-lifers note the harmful experience with euthanasia in the Netherlands (see page 18 of this issue).