Church Can't Be Silent in Face of Legal Euthanasia, Pope Says

John Paul II warned about the dangers of euthanasia, when he received the new Belgian ambassador to the Vatican. Belgium is the second country, after the Netherlands, to legalize this type of killing.

In his address today to career diplomat Benoit Cardon De Lichtbuer, 60, the Pontiff said that man, "created by God and called to share in his divine life, has always been at the center of the Christian vision of the world and that this is why the Church respects and defends life."

"How can she silence her great anxiety and reprobation in the face of laws recently voted on in different countries which legalize active euthanasia?" the Holy Father asked.

"In a society, in which all too often it seems that only good health and profitability matter, it is necessary to see weak persons or those at the end of life with other eyes; in particular, by applying and developing palliative care for all patients whose situation calls for it," he added.

This care "makes possible the relief of pain and supports in dignity those who are going to die," the Pope explained.

"Recognition of the sacred character and the inviolability of every human person, conferred by the Creator, is, in fact, the only authentic defense against ever possible violation of their dignity," the Holy Father stressed.

He added: "A society that would run the risk of challenging these principles, would expose itself to far graver dangers, in particular, to making the right of persons and fundamental values depend solely on consensus, which is ever changing."