Prohibitions of Dying do not help

The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe discusses common positions on Assistance to the Dying.

“A time to live, a time to die” is the title of a common aid to orientation of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, CPCE, on assisted dying and decisions at the end of life. The draft of the aid to orientation was discussed from 7th to 9th February at an international expert conference in the Evangelical Academy, Tutzing. On the basis of the results of the conference the aid to orientation is planned to be approved in the spring as a common statement of the protestant churches in Europe.

The question when and how a person dies is dependent in many cases today on medical decisions. The protestant churches in Europe wish to offer an orientation for these difficult questions. General Secretary Michael Bünker characterized the concern of CPCE: “In the centre of our reflections here stands respect for the inviolability of life and the good of the patient.

“Because we can increasingly do more, we must take on an increasing responsibility“, observed CPCE President Thomas Wipf on the situation with which patients, relatives and medical staff see themselves confronted at the end of life. “Mere prohibitions of dying do not help further; we need offers and assistance for living.”

As representative of the host church the Regional Bishop for Munich of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Susanne Breit-Kessler, greeted the aid to orientation: “The CPCE paper is urgently needed. We all gain in quality of life when we advance the culture of dying.” That is why it is important to engage all involved in decisions at the end of life and to address these questions early in the circle of family and friends.

At the end the expert conference with participants from the 105 member churches of CPCE approved recommendations for the further development of the aid to orientation. Here there stands in the centre of discussion the question how the protestant churches can bring their common concerns into very different national contexts. The members of the conference criticize an increasingly “functional” view of human beings, Here the churches must remain uncomfortable and ever and again make clear that the worth of human life does not depend on health, happiness or achievement.

Tutzing, 9th February 2011

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At present 105 Protestant churches in Europe (including five South-American churches originating from Europe ) belong to the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE). Lutheran, Reformed, United and Methodist along with pre-Reformation churches such as Hussites and Czech Brethren grant each other pulpit and table fellowship on the basis of the Leuenberg Agreement of 1973. The Secretariat is housed in the Severin-Schreiber-Gasse 3, A-1180 Vienna, office@leuenberg.eu, tel. +43.1.4791523.900, fax .110 The CPCE press officer is Dipl.theol. Thomas Flügge (Bern), tel. +41.31.3702502, t.fluegge@leuenberg.eu.

Picture: Justitia, Offenburg. CC/Dierk Schaefer

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