Euthanasia Challenged

Belgium is embroiled in a religious freedom controversy after the new head of the country’s Roman Catholic Church demanded that church-run hospitals and nursing homes have the right to refuse to euthanize their patients. Euthanasia for terminally ill adults was legalized in Belgium in 2002 and has been broadly supported. But opposition has grown as lawmakers extended the practice to terminally ill children and people with severe psychological problems. In a newspaper interview published the day after Christmas, the nation’s new primate, Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Mechelen-Brussels, acknowledged that secular-minded Belgians had no problem with abortion or euthanasia. “But it is not obvious from my faith,” he said. “I think that we have the right, on an institutional level, to decide not to do it.” Despite dwindling Mass attendance, the church still plays an important role in Belgium’s mixed private and public health care system. Catholic hospitals, which receive state subsidies, officially offer only palliative care for end-of-life patients, but not all of them have an outright ban on euthanasia in their guidelines.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.


The latest from america

This week, we talk with Fr. Gilbert Sunghera, an architectural consultant and associate professor of architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy.
Olga SeguraJuly 20, 2018
Bodys Isek Kingelez. Ville Fantôme. 1996. 
The Nigerian artist has left us a form of art that transcends political and aesthetic categories.
Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Montreal
When I was asked to accompany the Jesuit saint’s arm across Canada, various fears and questions flashed across my mind.
Why are there so many Catholics on the nation’s highest court?
Allyson EscobarJuly 18, 2018