Religious leaders critical of possible legalisation of euthanasia in France


Western Europe


Bishop Matthieu Rougé. Photo Twitter, Diocèse de Nanterre

French President, Emmanuel Macron, recently announced the opening of a “citizen consultation” on the “end of life”. Some religious leaders are resisting the proposed measures.

The discussion will center around end-of-life procedures and changes to palliative care, according to an RCF Radio report. The moves come after the National Consultative Ethics Committee (NCEC) released a document that called for reforms in public healthcare, particularly the country’s ‘right-to-die’ procedures.

Catholic Bishop Mattieu Rougé and France’s Chief Rabbi, Michaël Azoulay, have called on their communities to “choose life” and be “custodians of the Biblical tradition,” according to the RCF article.

"Palliative care problems must be addressed first"

As solutions, many French bishops are following in Rougé’s footsteps to “strengthen palliative care and to honour each human life,” as said in Le Monde. The Conference of Bishops also wrote that the problem with “palliative care deserts” must be addressed before any “reforms” can be considered. According to the Conference and many other religious leaders, palliative care has yet to be developed.

“Listening to patients, caregivers, families, actors in palliative care, we perceive that the essential need of the greatest number is to be considered, respected, helped, accompanied, not abandoned. Their suffering must be relieved, but their appeals also express their need for relationship and closeness. Isn't the deepest expectation of all actively assisted living, rather than actively assisted dying?” the Conference of Bishops said.

National debate

When it comes to the Protestant perspective, two organizations have issued differing opinions, according to Evangelical Focus Europe. The Protestant Federation of France (FPF), which oversees several mainline Protestant churches, said that it “welcomed a major national debate on the complex issue.” The FPF also said that the current “inadequacy” of palliative care and the tabling public health reforms have various “economic and ideological” implications. Another organization, the Evangelical Protestant Committee for Human Dignity (CPDH), issued a stronger position within the public debate and said that the CCNE’s positions have been influenced by “the demands of politicians.” CPDH also indicated that the “right to die with dignity already exists” within the field of palliative care.

“The President wants a right to euthanise. But when we can no longer add days to life, we must add life to days. Palliative care: yes! Murder: no! We will let President Macron know”, the group said on Twitter.

French President, Emmanuel Macron, is currently looking to amend France’s current “euthanasia law” which was passed in 2016. Macron hopes that by 2023, a “Belgian model” will be added to the legislation. This will allow the right to end one’s life in cases of “unbearable physical or psychological suffering,” according to the Evangelical Focus article.



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