The Archdiocese of Seattle is facing questions after a local man received a formal Catholic blessing at Mass shortly before committing medically assisted suicide.
Robert Fuller, an HIV and cancer patient, committed suicide on May 10.
An Aug. 27 Associated Press profile of Fuller’s final days included a photograph and account of the blessing he received at St. Therese Parish in the Seattle archdiocese, five days before he ended his own life.
“The Associated Press story about Mr. Fuller is of great concern to the Archbishops because it may cause confusion among Catholics and others who share our reverence for human life,” the Archdiocese of Seattle said in an Aug. 27 statement.
After Fuller attended a final Mass at his parish, Fr. Quentin Dupont, SJ, led children who had just received their First Holy Communion to gather around the man. The priest, the children, and members of the parish extended their hands in blessing over him. This act was recorded and photographed by an AP journalist.
“The feature story shows a photo of a blessing that Mr. Fuller received after Mass. At the time of this photo, parish leadership was not aware of Mr. Fuller’s intentions,” the archdiocese said.
“That morning, the priest in the photograph was told Mr. Fuller was dying and wanted the blessing of the faith community. It wasn’t until later that parish leaders learned of his plans. When these plans were made known, the pastor met with Mr. Fuller to discuss the sacred gift of human life and how we are called to respect and revere that gift as disciples of Jesus.”
The archdiocesan statement said an investigation is being opened to determine what had happened on and before the Mass on May 5.
While the archdiocesan statement said that parish leaders were unaware of Fuller’s intention to end his own life, the Associated Press reported that Fuller’s plans were “widely known and accepted” among the parishioners at St. Therese, which he began attending regularly towards the end of his life.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.