A priest who was photographed blessing a man who planned to commit suicide said Friday that he was unaware of the man’s intentions, and that if he had known what the man was planning, he would have acted differently.
“I believe that life is a gift. I believe that it is a gift from God and an opportunity every day to learn from God and love as God is trying to teach us to love though scriptures and the examples of Christ and the saints. I feel terrible that there is an insinuation that I, or a member of the clergy or religious order or this archdiocese, would think otherwise or would make a public statement otherwise,” Fr. Quentin Dupont, SJ, told America magazine Aug. 30.
Dupont is a graduate student at the University of Washington in Seattle, and periodically celebrates weekend Masses at St. Therese Parish in Seattle.
A photograph of the priest was part of an Aug. 26 Associated Press story profiling Robert Fuller, a St. Therese parishioner who committed medically assisted suicide May 10.
On May 5, Dupont, along with the parish community, blessed Fuller at a Mass he had announced as his last.
Dupont told America that when he conferred the blessing, “I was absolutely, unequivocally unaware of Mr. Fuller’s intention [to kill himself]. I’m not part of the conversations that happen in [the St. Therese] community all the time. I was given very limited information, and I had very limited knowledge about Mr. Fuller’s situation.”
“I did what I thought was pastorally expedient with the knowledge that I had. And it turns out I did not have key pieces of the story, otherwise I would have reacted completely differently.”
Members of the St Therese parish community were aware of Fuller’s plans at the May 5. He had by then announced that his funeral would be held at the parish May 17 and arranged for a parish choir to perform at the “end-of-life” party he threw in the hours before his suicide.
Dupont, however, told America that he was not told of those plans when he arrived at the parish May 5.
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