German churches don’t rule out assisted suicide

Churches in Bremen (photo) and Lower Saxony don't rule out assisted suicide. Photo EPA, Focke Strangmann

German churches do not want to rule out option of assisted suicide in church institutions.

The Roman Catholic bishops and leading clergymen of the Protestant churches in Lower Saxony and Bremen (Germany) have published a joined declaration on the issue. Simultaneously, the German government wants to reconsider the national legislation concerning assisted suicide.

The churches want to expand their role in hospice work and palliative care for the seriously ill.

In their declaration, the clergymen state that they favour playing a more active role at the end of people's lives. They want to set up larger and stronger networks of professional advice centres for people who are at risk of suicide, Idea reports.

In addition, the ecclesiastical leaders do not want to rule out the possibility of assisted suicide in church institutions in emergencies.

Catholic bishop Heiner Wilmer from Hildesheim is "grateful" that the churches have found some common ground in the controversial debate. "We see understanding on these issues as a constructive contribution to understanding across society."

Until February 2020, commercial suicide was banned by law. However, two years ago, the Federal Constitutional Court decided that people had the right to self-determined dying. Idea reports that this included the freedom to ask for the help of third parties. At the moment, there are several draft laws in the making to regulate assisted suicide.

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