Leaders of Abrahamic religions meet at Vatican to unite against euthanasia, assisted suicide

Leaders from three of the world’s major religions have issued a joint declaration against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The declaration, issued at the Vatican by leaders of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, states that no health care provider should be pressured into conducting assisted suicide or euthanasia in any form, but should instead encourage palliative care.

It also condemned any pressure being placed upon dying patients to actively and deliberately end their lives.

“We oppose any form of euthanasia … because they fundamentally contradict the inalienable value of human life, and therefore are inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong, and should be forbidden without exceptions,” said the declaration, released by the Vatican on Oct. 28 

“Care for the dying, is both part of our stewardship of the Divine gift of life when a cure is no longer possible, as well as our human and ethical responsibility toward the dying (and often) suffering patient,” the religious leaders said in the declaration.

“Even when efforts to continue staving off death seems unreasonably burdensome,” they said, “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.”

However, the document adds that when death is imminent, it is justified to “withhold certain forms of medical treatment that would only prolong a precarious life of suffering.”

The declaration signed by 30 religious leaders was the brainchild of Rabbi Avraham Steinberg of Israel who proposed the idea to Pope Francis.

The signatories included rabbis, cardinals, Muslim clerics such Syamsul Anwar of Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah. 

All were received by Pope Francis during an audience following the declaration’s release.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, stressed the importance of the ecumenical and interreligious dimension of the joint declaration. 

It gave religious leaders the chance to discover areas of convergence and bring fruits of communion in order to serve all people, Archbishop Paglia said.    

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