Vatican thinker brands US woman's suicide 'wicked'

Brittany Maynard and her Great Dane puppy Charlie (AFP Photo/)

Vatican City (AFP) - A senior Vatican official has condemned as "wicked" the assisted suicide of Brittany Maynard, an American woman suffering from terminal brain cancer.

Maynard, 29, died in Portland, Oregon on Saturday having announced her intention to self-administer a cocktail of fatal drugs legally provided by her doctors in the US state, where she had moved with her husband after being given six months to live in January.

Anticipating a painful end to her life, she had announced her intention to end it in a video seen by millions of web users around the world that sparked a national debate in the United States over the right of the terminally ill to die with dignity at a time of their choosing.

Right-to-die laws such as those in place in Oregon are ferociously opposed by the Catholic Church, which maintains that suicide in any form is a sin.

"We do not judge the individuals but the act itself is to be condemned," said Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the bishop who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, a semi-autonomous Church think-tank which studies ethical issues.

"This woman did this thinking she could die with dignity," Carrasco de Paula told Italian news agency ANSA.

"But this is where the error lies: to commit suicide is not a good thing, it is a wicked thing because it is saying no both to one's own life and to everything which signifies respect for our mission in this world and towards those closest to us."