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Laura Mills wrote:

Hi, guys —

I know it is a sin to commit suicide in the Catholic Church but:

  • Since I feel it is the same thing as suicide, is it a sin to put a animal to sleep?
  • What is Francis of Assisi' feelings and thought of putting a dog or animal to sleep?

Please help me understand because I feel like it is committing suicide or murder.

Laura

  { Since it's the same thing as suicide, is it a sin to put a animal to sleep and what's St. Francis' view? }

Eric replied:

Laura,

While I understand your concern, rest assured that it is not a sin if done humanely.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

"It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons."

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2418

Basically, animals are not people and while they have their own dignity, they are not morally equivalent to human beings. Thus we can kill them for food and clothing; again, quoting the Catechism:

"God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives."

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2417

  • You do bring up an interesting point that has often occurred to me, namely, if we encourage euthanasia of animals, will it encourage euthanasia of humans?

Actually I think people are already drawing the connection between the two.

  • If we can put down Fido, why can't we put down Grandma?

As long as we:

  • recognize that human beings have much more intrinsic dignity than animals, and
  • do not confuse the two or bestow human equality on animals

it's OK to euthanize our pets.

Remember that only humans are created in the image and likeness of God; only humans have an immortal soul.

Eric
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