Monday, April 16, 2012

Suicide - what does the Church say about suicide and the fate of those who have committed it?

As I mentioned in a previous post, suicide is becoming quite a problem here. I recently conducted a funeral for someone who had committed suicide. Naturally, family members asked about the Church's position on the fate of their loved one. All I could do was give them the Church's teaching on (a) the seriousness of the sin of suicide and (b) the possibility of circumstances such as depression, anguish, grief, in some way reducing the responsibility of the person who committed suicide and (c) how we must entrust the person to the mercy of God and pray for his/her soul very much.

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law. Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. the Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

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