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Germany: Evangelical Church wants to help with suicide

Several representatives of the Protestant Church promote the possibility of accompanied professional suicide in church-diaconal institutions.

This is reported by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), citing a statement whose signatories included the Hanoverian regional bishop Ralf Meister and the president of the Diakonia, Ulrich Lilie. The Landeskirche Hannover confirmed the statement that the newspaper published in full on Monday.

According to the FAZ report, the theologians demand that church institutions should ensure the best possible medical and nursing palliative care, but should not refuse to accept a person's voluntary wish to end their life with medical help.

To take life "safely and not in agony"
"Unfortunately, the church has a long history of guilt in dealing with suicides," the newspaper quotes the statement. Today, on the other hand, it is imperative that the “respect for self-determination that comes from the Christian faith” be offered to those willing to die, advice, support and accompaniment.

Church institutions must therefore be places where people can take their own lives in a “safe and non-painful way”.

Position of the authors and not the EKD
The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) stated on request that this was the position of the authors of the statement and not the EKD. The Evangelical Church "also stands by the side of those who, due to illness or another emergency situation, see no other way out than suicide", but rejects "any organized help to suicide that contributes to making suicide an option alongside others" a spokesman said.

"The fact that people only see the possibility of suicide is always a tragic borderline situation that the EKD and its Diakonia try to prevent by providing palliative care, pastoral care, counseling and the work of the hospices."

Right to assistance in suicide
The board of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, Eugen Brysch, emphasized in a reaction to the theologians' letter that assisted suicide is not just about dying people. Even "lively, lonely, in need of care or mentally ill people" have a right to help with suicide.

"So it will be of the highest interest how thousands of Protestant nursing homes and hospitals want to organize assisted suicide," said Brysch. For the employees this is an unbearable imposition. “It is time for the Protestant churches in Germany to face this discussion across the board. Then it will also be clear whether the proposals are a majority and are responsible, ”said Brysch.

The Evangelical Church declared that it considered the social discourse on suffering and death to be necessary. Protestant voices "that deviate from the clear position of the EKD Council" could also contribute to this.

Source: ORF
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