21 March 2018
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  • » 03/09/2018, 17.58


    Indian Catholic Church against passive and active euthanasia

    Today the Indian Supreme Court has admitted the possibility of stopping treatment for the terminally ill. Parliament will have to legislate in the matter of living will. For the bishops, the "taking of innocent life is never a moral act." They oppose over-zealous treatment and are in favour of palliative care. “The mark of a good society is its ability and willingness to care for those who are most vulnerable.”

    New Delhi (AsiaNews) – "The Church rejects any proposal concerning active euthanasia as well as passive euthanasia,” says a note issued by India’s Catholic bishops following a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court that allows passive euthanasia for the terminally ill.

    The note is signed by Fr Stephen Fernandes, national secretary of the Office for Justice, Peace and Development of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI).

    “No one,” the note reads, “can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a foetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying.”

    Today the Supreme Court issued a historical albeit very controversial ruling, saying that every human being has the fundamental right to "die with dignity".

    In their decision, the five justices laid down the conditions for euthanasia. The patient must make a "living testament" that gives explicit instructions about refusing medical assistance in case of irreversible coma. This will allow for the interruption of medical care.

    The Court also clarifies what euthanasia means, namely the "withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient". It also noted that the living will is matter that falls on lawmakers.

    For the Catholic Church, “No one has the right to ask for this act of killing for ourselves or for those entrusted to our care.”

    "In India, the sanctity of life has hitherto been placed on the highest level. The right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution does not include within its scope the right to die. The taking of innocent life is never a moral act."

    According to the CBCI, "Legalizing euthanasia would place the lives of vulnerable people at risk, including those whom others might be tempted to think would be better off dead.”

    At the same time, the bishops acknowledge that, “Especially at the end of life, when it is clear that death is imminent and inevitable, no matter what medical procedures are attempted, one may refuse treatment that would only secure a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life, so long as the normal care due to the sick person in similar cases is not interrupted.”

    According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (N.2278), "Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of ‘over-zealous’ treatment."

    “Better access to high quality palliative care, greater support for care givers and enhanced end of life care will be the hallmark of a truly compassionate society. The mark of a good society is its ability and willingness to care for those who are most vulnerable.”

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    See also

    21/02/2008 VATICAN
    Ethical principles for the care of terminally ill patients under study
    An international congress will consider the topic of care for dying persons. The 'no' to euthanasia, and the right to refuse aggressive therapies.

    07/10/2004 INDONESIA
    Euthanasia? The government should instead provide medical treatment to the poor, the Church says

    Lack of money to pay for treatment pushes man to ask that his wife be euthanised.

    25/03/2005 USA – EUTHANASIA
    Terri Schiavo's Passion: "She shows signs of malnutrition"

    10/07/2017 10:37:00 INDIA
    Supreme Court: Ganges 'not a living being'

    The judges overturn a ruling by the Upper Court of Uttarakhand. The river is highly polluted by industrial waste, urbanization, pesticides. The new legal status threatened to make the river responsible for flood damage.

    05/02/2014 INDIA
    India’s Supreme Court to review "pro- Hindu" ruling, to curb religious extremism
    In 1995, the country's highest court ruled that seeking votes in the name of Hinduism is not a form of corruption. The verdict was heavily criticized, because the defendant in that trial had been elected on the back of Hindutva, a nationalist ideology . The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC ) urges a favorable decision of the Supreme Court in view of the general elections of May 2014. "In states where Hindutva is pursued, minorities live in insecurity".

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