Several representatives of the Protestant Church want to facilitate the accompanied professional suicide in church-diaconal institutions.
According to the report, theologians demand that church institutions ensure the best possible medical and nursing palliative care. However, they should not refuse a person’s freely responsible wish to end their lives with medical assistance. This could mean “offering or at least allowing and accompanying assisted suicide in one’s own homes.”
“Unfortunately, there is a long history of guilt in the church’s handling of suicides,” the newspaper quotes the statement as saying. Today, on the other hand, it is the “respect for self-determination that comes from the Christian faith” to offer counselling, support and support to those who wish to die. Ecclesiastical institutions must therefore be places where people can take their own lives in a “safe and not agonizing way”. It is necessary to ensure that this is a free and responsible decision.
The Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) stated on request that this was the position of the authors of the opinion and not of the EKD. The Protestant Church is “also at the side of those who, due to illness or other emergencies, see no other way out than suicide,” but explicitly rejects “any organized help to commit suicide that helps to make suicide an option alongside others,” a spokesman said. The social discourse on suffering and death is necessary. Protestant voices “who deviate from the clear position of the Council of the ECD” could also contribute to this.
Bishops’ Conference contradicts Protestant position
In response to the letter, Eugen Brysch, the executive director of the German Patient Protection Foundation, stressed that suicide aid is not just about dying people. The Federal Constitutional Court puts self-determination above all else. “People who are lonely, needy or mentally ill” also have a right to help with suicide, Brysch said. “It is time for the Protestant churches in Germany to face up to this discussion in all its broadest terms. Then it becomes clear whether the proposals are majority-capable and responsible,” Brysch said.
The spokesman of the Catholic German Bishops’ Conference, Matthias Kopp, disagreed with this position. Ecclesiastical institutions are committed to the Christian message of hope and thus to the promotion of life. An offer of assisted suicide is incompatible with this.
In February 2020, the Federal Constitutional Court annulled Clause 217 of the Criminal Code. This lifted the ban on commercial promotion of suicide, which was passed by the Bundestag in 2015. The judges stressed that there was a comprehensive right to self-determined death. This includes the freedom to seek the assistance of third parties. A new euthanasia law is to be discussed in the Bundestag before the 2021 Bundestag election.