On the anniversary of the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, leaders and representatives of the three main Abrahamic religions were received at the Vatican City, Apostolic Palace, by Pope Francis to commend the joint statement regarding the Preservation of the Sanctity of Human Life convened by the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia.
(excerpt) Welcome by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia
We are all aware of the importance of euthanasia and assisted suicide in the context of contemporary societies. The debate does not take place only within the scientific and medical community because of the therapeutic resources made available by the medicine in the concluding stages of earthly life, but also in the broader horizon of general culture in relation to questions concerning the final passage of death. New spaces are indeed opening up for the choices to be made and it is the responsibility of all to contribute to take them in a constructive and favourable way to the dignity of each person. It is therefore very significant to reaffirm from the representatives of the three monotheistic religions the commitment to respect and promote human life at times when, close to the death, shows particularly its fragility and weakness. I therefore believe that our clear and decisive position is important: we do not want to procure the death of a patient or help him to die.
Furthermore, the declaration we are about to sign constitutes a reference to the most authentic meaning of medicine and health professions. Medicine does not have in its horizon the giving or taking away of patients’ lives. To end life means to deny it sense. We are aware of moving into an area where it is difficult to separate things clearly. But this never-ending search for meaning, which the disease puts in question, is a task carried out by the culture as a whole. Every society is called to elaborate in this way, fielding its relational, symbolic, narrative, artistic as well as religious resources. The medicine is placed within this framework, but carries out a more limited task: to take care of the sick person and to assess which treatments are more adequate and relevant to promote the health of the person, wisely assuming the limits of the condition and human behaviour. It is not required to restore health at any cost or to prolong life indefinitely, but to always take care of the person, even when the illness is incurable.
The practice of palliative care emphasises precisely this aspect. For this reason, the Declaration underlines their importance and commitment both to make their role known and to spread them everywhere, including the university environment. The goal they set is to taking care of the person in an integral sense, starting from pain therapy, considering all its dimensions and also enhancing the spiritual horizon in which human existence is inscribed. And any doubt about their collusion with logics that do not support life must be removed. The exact opposite is true, as reiterated in 2002 by the World Health Organisation when it states that palliative care does not intend to hasten or indiscriminately postpone the moment of death. Their purpose is to accompany patients in a competent and comprehensive way, using a multidisciplinary team approach, in the delicate passage of dying, taking care of families too.
POSITION PAPER OF THE ABRAHAMIC MONOTHEISTIC RELIGIONS ON MATTERS CONCERNING THE END-OF-LIFE
On October 28, 2019 in the Casina Pio IV (Pontifical Academy for Sciences, Vatican City):
– Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and other Representatives, have signed the The Position Paper was prepared by the Pontifical Academy for Life under the mandate of Pope Francis.
On October 28th Pope Francis has received the main signers, the deputies of the Patriarchate of Costantinoples, of the Patriarchate of Moscow and others from the Islam world, and the Jewish world, between the Chief Rabbi of Rome.
Excerpts from the Position Paper:
“We encourage and support validated and professional palliative care everywhere and for everyone. Even when efforts to continue staving off death seems unreasonably burdensome, 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.
We commend laws and policies that protect the rights and the dignity of the dying patient, in order to avoid euthanasia and promote palliative care.
We call upon all policy-makers and health-care providers to familiarize themselves with this wide-ranging Abrahamic monotheistic perspective and teaching in order to provide the best care to dying patients and to their families who adhere to the religious norms and guidance of their respective religious traditions.
We are committed to involving the other religions and all people of goodwill”.