Speaking to the Italian news agency ANSA on Tuesday, Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula called Maynard’s assisted suicide “an absurdity.”
“This woman [took her own life] thinking she would die with dignity, but this is the error,” the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life said, according to a translation by Reuters. “Suicide is not a good thing. It is a bad thing because it is saying no to life and to everything it means with respect to our mission in the world and toward those around us.”
Maynard, 29, died by taking medication prescribed by her doctor weeks after she became a national advocate for Death with Dignity laws. Diagnosed with brain cancer in January, she was given six months to live in April.
“There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die,” she told PEOPLE. “I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease, but there’s not.”
Advocates for terminally ill patients to end their lives on their own terms argue against labeling these deaths suicides.
“Brittany Maynard was not Catholic,” said Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, a board member of Compassion & Choices, the national end-of-life choice organization Maynard was working with, in a statement.
“People of faith are free to follow their own beliefs and consciences,” he continued. “But it is wrong to use the police power of government to impose a set of religious beliefs on people who do not share them. It is not the American way.
This isn’t the first time critics have questioned Maynard’s choice: She fired back after Dr. Ira Byock went on TV to advocate for palliative care and made specific comments about her situation.
“I have been in charge of this choice,” she wrote in response to Byock’s criticism. “Gaining control of a terrifying terminal disease through the application of my own humane logic.”
• With reporting by NICOLE WEISENSEE EGAN
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