Martyrdom: OK; suicide: not OK

A bishop in Brazil has started a hunger strike and threatens to go to his death, if the country’s President doesn’t put the kibosh on a proposed water diversion project. He seems to have forgotten that direct intentional suicide, even as a means to a good end, is immoral; and that threatening to commit suicide is immoral.

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.

The scandal involved is not insignificant. The Punjabi bishop who shot himself in 1998 in outrage over the invidious blasphemy law in Pakistan is still treated as somewhat of a hero.

The chair of the convention, Catholic Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, said “the present [election] system here is really nothing but political apartheid.”
“We want to be treated as equal citizens. We will continue our struggle peacefully for that,” said the bishop, who had succeeded Bishop John Joseph. In 1998, Bishop Joseph shot himself in protest against Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law and what he considered to be the harassment of Christians.
Asserting that the “qurbani” (sacrifice) of his predecessor “has not gone in vain,” Coutts said that “change does not take place all of a sudden. We need to be consistent and keep trying.”
[from CT]

“Qurbani” or “sacrifice”, in whatever language, is a religious word; and linking self-murder to it is gravely misleading.
(via Amy.)

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Categorized as Bishops