Representatives from the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the Muslim and Jewish faiths signed a joint declaration at the Vatican reaffirming each religion’s clear opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
They also encouraged promoting palliative care so that dying patients could receive the best, most comprehensive physical, emotional, social, religious and spiritual care and appropriate support for their families, according to the joint statement.
Pope Francis met Oct. 28 with the signatories, who presented him with a copy of the declaration they signed a few hours earlier at a Vatican ceremony. The signatories included representatives from the Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia, Muslim and Jewish scholars and leaders.
The declaration, titled, “Position paper of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions on matters concerning the end of life,” was prepared by the Pontifical Academy for Life and released Oct. 28.
Because of wide debate and discussion in society concerning end-of-life issues and policies, the aim of the joint statement was to clearly present the positions of the monotheistic faiths concerning “the values and practices relevant to the dying patient,” their families, health-care providers and policy makers who belong to one of these religions, it said.
The faith leaders, it said, share “common goals and are in complete agreement in their approach to end-of-life situations,” affirming that:
– Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are “inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong and should be forbidden with no exceptions. Any pressure upon dying patients to end their lives by active and deliberate actions is categorically rejected.”
– “No health care provider should be coerced or pressured to either directly or indirectly assist in the deliberate and intentional death of a patient through assisted suicide or any form of euthanasia, especially when it is against the religious beliefs of the provider,” and as such, conscientious objection “should be respected.”
– “We encourage and support validated and professional palliative care everywhere and for everyone. Even when efforts to continue staving off death seems unreasonably burdensome, we are morally and religiously duty-bound to provide comfort, effective pain and symptoms relief, companionship, care and spiritual assistance to the dying patient and to her/his family.”
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