Last updated on: 10/19/2009 | Author:

Pope Benedict XVI Biography

265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop of Rome, and head of state of Vatican City
Con to the question "Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?"

“I would also like to take the opportunity of our meeting to express to you my very deep concern about the text of the law on euthanasia and assisted suicide that is currently being discussed in Parliament. In practice, this text accompanied moreover and in a contradictory manner by another bill which contains felicitous legal measures for developing palliative care to make suffering more bearable in the final stages of illness and to encourage the appropriate humane care for the patient legitimizes the possibility of putting an end to life.

Political leaders, who have the grave duty of serving the good of the human being, and likewise doctors and families, must remember that ‘the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit’ (Encyclical Evangelium vitae, n. 57). In truth, love and true compassion take a different path. The request that rises from the human heart, especially when a person is tempted to cede to discouragement and has reached the point of wishing to disappear, is above all a request for company and an appeal for greater solidarity and support in trial.

This appeal may seem demanding but it is the only one worthy of the human being and gives access to new and deeper forms of solidarity which, ultimately, enrich and strengthen family and social ties. On this path of humanization all people of good will are asked to cooperate and the Church, for her part, is determined to commit to it all her resources of attention and service. Faithful to their Christian and human roots and to the constant concern to further the common good, may every member of the population of Luxembourg always have at heart to reaffirm the greatness and inviolable character of human life!”

Address to the Ambassador of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to the Holy See,, Dec. 18, 2008

[Editor’s Note: Before becoming Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was “Con” as indicated in the following excerpt of a July 2004 memorandum titled “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles”:

“The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin…

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia… While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”]

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop of Rome, and head of state of Vatican City, 2005-present
  • Honorary Academic, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 2000-present
  • Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni, 1993-2005
  • Dean, College of Cardinals, 2002-2005
  • Received honorary doctorates from: University of Wroclaw (2000), Libera Universita Maria Santissima Assunta (1999), University of Navarre (1998), Catholic University of Lublin (1988), Catholic University of Eichstatt (1987), Catholic University of Lima (1986), and College of St. Thomas (1984)
  • Vice Dean, College of Cardinals, 1998-2002
  • President, Preparatory Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1986-1992
  • Cardinal and Archbishop of Munich and Freising (Germany), 1977–1982
  • Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1981
  • Professor, Theology, Univeristy of Tübingen, 1966-1969
  • Professor, Theology, University of Münster, 1963-1966
  • Theological Advisor to Cardinal Joseph Frings, Archbishop of Cologne, 1962-1965
  • Professor, Theology, University of Bonn, 1959-1963
  • Professor, Philosophy and Theology, Higher School of Freising, 1952-1959
  • Ordained into the priesthood, 1951
  • PhD, Theology, University of Munich, 1953
  • Studied Philosophy and Theology, Higher School of Philsophy and Theology of Freising, 1946-1951
  • Studied Philosophy and Theology, University of Munich, 1946-1951
  • Born Joseph Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, Germany on Apr. 16, 1927