The tragic conclusion of the earthly life of Noa Pothoven, a young Dutch girl, is the undoubtable sign of the no-holds-barred advance of the culture of death in our societies, a culture expanding on the basis of the dogma of psychological self-determination which is the absolute doctrinal principle of the new religion of despair. Society and the state induce persons to despair, teaching that everything can be good and just if so willed by the person in question, while at the same time teaching that nothing is good and just in itself, and nothing is worth the effort. They then eliminate those in the throes of despair, under the guise of fulfilling their wishes. The principle of absolute self-determination is not natural. It is induced by the ideology of death, and then people appeal thereto as if it were a natural principle for killing people in despair, inducing them to die, or abstaining from helping them to live.
According to what is known thus far, private health care facilities collaborated in Noa’s demise, assisting her suicide in order to make it less painful in the terminal stage. Those structures actually took part in her death. Morally speaking, collaborating with someone who wants to kill him/herself is tantamount to being an accomplice to homicide. As far as things stand now, there is no evidence of any involvement on the part of public health care facilities, even though they might be considered guilty of omission by the state, and even though the pro-euthanasia atmosphere fostered by legislation certainly had a part to play.
For some time states have been providing a helping hand in the killing of innocent babies in their mother’s womb, thereby preventing them from being born. For some time in the Netherlands, the national authorities have been collaborating with persons who ask to be killed pursuant to the law on euthanasia. Current statistics, merciless in their objective clarity, tell us that the practice of assisted suicide is mounting at a dizzying pace, and the reasons for euthanasia can by now be very weak indeed, but are satisfied no matter what. The case of Noa is neither a new event nor an unexpected one. A shattering event, yes, but not unexpected for those who keep a close eye on developments in the battle between the culture of life and the culture of death in the countries of post-humanity. Since the young girl in question had been denied euthanasia by law, the advocates of death are now calling for the most complete liberalization. Unfortunately, these are things we have already seen.
Noa’s death is nonetheless shocking due to her young age, her weakness implicitly appealing for help, and the replacement of this human, material and moral assistance with the shove to leave this world due to the perversion of laws and the social health care ‘system’ as a whole. Is Noa’s death the last and most recent case in a world which is so appalled that it will shake itself awake from its state of guilty lethargy. . .or is it the first case of the unlivable world awaiting us in the future? It has been stated many times in the past that certain thresholds of no return had been crossed. . .and, unfortunately, ensuing history has confirmed these predictions. Many times it has been said that once this or that point had been passed, other points would later be passed, because the culture of death has its own internal rationale. In many of these cases we have continued marching ahead without paying much attention to new and disconcerting events, to which we gradually become accustomed.
Assisting suicide or committing suicide are increasingly understood as rights, and since the state guarantees rights, the state offers death when a person so desires, or if the state does nothing to help him or her stay alive. If we make a sincere effort to bring reality out into the open, Noa’s death is a further tessera predicting this murky future: evil democratically celebrated, contemplated by law, and planned, just as the respect and satisfaction of a right are planned.
The question regarding how we have been able to reach this point should be pondered by all consciences. What happens in history is always the outcome of lengthy processes that evoke responsibilities. We have tolerated too much. Our engagement has been all too limited. We thought the culture of dialogue could encompass the battle between good and evil that has always been a feature of human history. We have philosophized about the forms of the battle to wage more so than the contents. We have divided the pro-life front for marginal reasons. We have amplified and diluted our attention on the theme of life, losing sight of the bioethical and bio-political issues that ever remain priorities. We have eliminated some things from our sermons, considering them all too rough for the man of today. We have been caught up in a conciliatory ministry also regarding things impossible to reconcile. On certain themes we have no longer been able to join those who took to the streets to voice their views.
With Noa, the anthropological deviation has made a further step forward. The anthropological deviation, however, evokes another and much more important one: the theological deviation. Whether in terms of good or evil, man can never completely explain himself. Taking leave from God in our societies cannot but lead to taking leave from man. We have to ask ourselves if we haven’t gone off in the wrong direction in this regard: Christians all too often look at man in order to find God, instead of looking at God to find man.
+ Giampaolo Crepaldi
Bishop of Trieste and President of the Observatory Cardinal Van Thuân.