The Pope - long seen as an uncompromising upholder of the sanctity of human life - has unexpectedly expressed support for the right to die. His comments follow the case of Miss B, the paralysed British woman who won a legal battle in the High Court last week to have her life support machine turned off.
Pope John Paul II has been a staunch opponent of euthanasia, considered by the Catholic Church as usurping God's role in the creation and ending of human life. The Vatican has also bitterly opposed any experiments on foetuses as well as abortion.
However, speaking to an international delegation of doctors in Rome, the Pope said doctors should not always use medical science to prolong the lives of their patients. Instead, he said that educating people to a serene acceptance of death was part of a doctor's mission.
'Certainly one cannot forget that man is a mortal being,' the Pope said. There...