What is The Catholic Church’s View on Suicide? (The Catholic position on Suicide)

I have always been interested in different denominations and their views on certain topics. Once, a friend shared an article with me about a couple who were shocked by the priest’s sermon at their son’s funeral who had committed Suicide.

The priest said the son would not go to Heaven since he died of Suicide. Being a theologian, I was instantly intrigued by how the Catholic Church views Suicide. I decided to do thorough research into the topic.

I visited several parishes and spoke to the priests and catechists to understand the topic adequately. I also read the Catechism of the Catholic Church to understand what the church teaches on the topic of Suicide.

Recently, on our online interdenominational platform, a few people raised the question of Suicide and what the catechism says about it.

I followed the discussion that arose closely to see how much information people have on the catholic position on Suicide before I gave my remarks.

Based on my extensive research and adequate knowledge of the topic, I could answer
these questions accurately.

So, what is the catholic church’s view on Suicide?

According to its catechism, the Catholic Church considers Suicide a mortal sin, with an exception for suicide cases resulting from severe depression or other forms of mental illness. The church also believes that God, through his infinite power and mercies, can save those who have committed Suicide.

In this article, I will cover the catholic position on Suicide and related aspects, such as the catholic rules about Suicide, whether Catholics view it as an unforgivable sin, and whether suicide victims go to hell.

Let’s get started!

What are the catholic rules about Suicide?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that everyone is responsible for his life before God, who has given it to him.

It points out that humans are naturally inclined to preserve and perpetuate their lives and that psychological disturbances may diminish one’s will, causing them to commit Suicide.

Additionally, it encourages the Catholic faithful not to despair of the eternal salvation of those who have taken their own lives, as God can provide an opportunity for them to repent through his divine mercies.

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church held a stern viewpoint on Suicide since it believed that every life comes from God, as seen in Genesis 1:27, and should, therefore, be lived in a way that pleases God and brings salvation to one’s soul.

Mark 12:29-31 urges us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, as this is the second greatest commandment. The catholic church, therefore, suggests that taking one’s own life is a great offense on this commandment since it deprives those around them a chance to know and love them.

However, the catechism of the Catholic Church released in 1992 under Pope John Paul II made a slight adjustment to these beliefs by suggesting that Suicide resulting from great psychological disturbances such as severe depression, loss, and grief, as well as anxiety, was not classified as a mortal sin.

The Catholic church, therefore, acknowledges that mental illness may impair one’s will to live, hence causing them to take their own lives.

Do Catholics believe Suicide is an unforgivable sin?

What is The Catholic Church’s View on Suicide?
Do Catholics believe Suicide is an unforgivable sin? Image source: Pixabay

According to modern priestly teachings and the catholic catechism, the Catholic church believes that there is hope for those who have died by Suicide, as God can still save their souls.

It no longer holds the belief that Suicide is a mortal sin that leads to eternal damnation.

In the early catholic churches, all the way up to the 1980s, Suicide was considered a mortal sin. A mortal sin is a grave offense that is committed based on sufficient reflection and with the full consent of the offender’s will.

However, the catholic church became convinced that Suicide may be the result of a mental illness that affects the victim’s judgment and will and, therefore, does not meet the full criteria of a mortal sin.

Do people who commit Suicide go to hell?

While there is no direct evidence in the Bible that those who have committed Suicide will go to hell, Romans 6:23 teaches us that our lives are a gift from God and should, therefore, be lived responsibly in a way that is pleasing to Him.

The Bible teaches that God enables us to lead our daily lives according to his plan, and we should turn to him in times of trouble. Not forgetting the sixth commandment in Exodus 20:13 – Do Not Commit Murder!

However, Paul teaches in Romans 5:8-11 that Christ’s death, which saved us while we were still sinners, is even more capable of saving us from all sin now that we have been saved.

Therefore, theologians and Bible scholars have argued that God has the power to free us from all sins, including that of committing Suicide. Scripture backs this conviction, as Romans 8:38-39 states that neither death nor life can separate us from the love of God.

Can a catholic who commits Suicide have a Catholic funeral?

What is The Catholic Church’s View on Suicide? 
Catholic funeral. Image source: Pixabay

Since Suicide is often caused by a mental illness that impairs the victim’s judgment, the Catholic church allows its priests to conduct masses and pray for the souls of those who have died in this way.

The catechism even provides for special prayers in the Order of Christian Funerals.

Can a catholic who commits Suicide be buried in a catholic cemetery?

The catholic church allows those who have committed Suicide to be buried in catholic cemeteries because their death may have been due to a mental illness or other prevailing circumstances that may have impaired their judgment.

The church believes that the person may have had the chance to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness before their death.

In addition, the catechism of the catholic church encourages those who have lost their loved ones to Suicide not to despair of their eternal salvation and to continuously pray for them, as God may still save them through his special ways.

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