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Pope Francis: Assisted suicide is a 'false sense of compassion'

Pope Francis denounced the right to die movement Saturday, calling it a sin against the Creator. 

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    Pope Francis delivers his speech during a special audience he held for members of Catholic medical associations, in the Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014.
    (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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Pope Francis denounced the right to die movement Saturday, saying it's a "false sense of compassion" to consider euthanasia as an act of dignity when in fact it's a sin against God and creation.

Francis made the comments to the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors.

Earlier this month, the Vatican's top bioethics official condemned as "reprehensible" the assisted suicide of an American woman, Brittany Maynard, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, said she wanted to die with dignity.

"We don't judge people, but the gesture in itself is to be condemned," said Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which is responsible for ethical issues in the Catholic Church.

"Assisted suicide is an absurdity," Carrasco de Paula told the Italian news agency ANSA. "Dignity is something different than putting an end to your own life."

On Saturday, Francis didn't refer to the Maynard case specifically.

While denouncing euthanasia in general, he also condemned abortion, in vitro fertilization (or "the scientific production of a child") and embryonic stem cell research (or "using human beings as laboratory experiments to presumably save others.")

"This is playing with life," he said. "Beware, because this is a sin against the creator, against God the creator."

While shying away from hot-button, culture war issues such as abortion, Francis has spoken out frequently about euthanasia. He considers the assisted suicide movement as a symptom of today's "throw-away culture" that views the sick and elderly as useless drains on society.

Pope Francis used the term in a written missive to the Pontifical Academy for Life in February. At the time, Francis criticized European laws that promote euthanasia, without mentioning any specific examples: the lack of good health and disability “are never a good reason to exclude, or worse, to eliminate a person.” 

On Saturday, Francis urged doctors to take "courageous and against-the-grain" decisions to uphold church teaching on the dignity of life, even if it requires resorting to conscientious objection.

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