Posts Tagged ‘Catholic priest on suicide’

In writing about suicide, Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI, often paraphrases Canadian poet Margaret Atwood: “Certain things need to be said and said until they don’t need to be said anymore.” Father Rolheiser is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He’s also a columnist and writer whose book The Holy Longing won the USA Catholic Press Award in 2000 for best hardcover book in spirituality.

Once a year, Father Rolheiser offers a column about suicide on his website. It’s part of his attempt to “say and say” something until it doesn’t need to be said anymore.

The first thing he says is that suicide remains possibly the “most misunderstood” of all deaths, adding that because it is self-inflicted, it is usually viewed as voluntary. “For most suicides, this is not true,” he writes. “A person dying of suicide dies, as does the victim of physical illness or accident, against his or her will. People die from physical heart attacks, strokes, cancer, AIDS and accidents. Death by suicide is the same, except that we are dealing with an emotional heart attack, an emotional stroke . . . an emotional fatality” (“Losing a Loved One to Suicide,” http://www.ronrolheiser.com June 6, 1998).

In an earlier column, Father Rolheiser was even more emphatic about the act of suicide and the morality surrounding it. “[With suicide], there is no freedom not to die. Suicide victims are, like victims of sickness and accidents, not responsible for their own deaths and suicide should not be a matter of secrecy, shame, moral judgment, and second-guessing” (“Understanding Suicide,” http://www.ronrolheisser.com November 11, 1990).

In an endeavor of many years, I have studied the historical teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in regard to suicide, and I have tried to understand my daughter Mary’s suicide and all suicides. What I have not encountered before is the clarity and boldness with which Father Ron Rolheiser writes on the topic. There will be more.

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