Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Burning Issue of Euthanasia

By Archdeacon Raphael Misiaoulis
of the Sacred Metropolis of Tamasos and Oreinis

This past year, and not only, we have seen in the media the issue of euthanasia being discussed by various people and whether a dialogue should be opened on this issue.

Euthanasia as a subject is not easily accessible and this is because both as a concept and much more its transformation into action, leads the individual to dilemmas and controversial situations.

The term "euthanasia" is a term that is purely related to medical science and refers to the cessation of life through the help of a doctor, in order to redeem the person suffering from the pain of their illness and to reach a calm end.

On the contrary, in ancient times, as already mentioned, euthanasia was the good and calm death or the glorious death on the battlefield.

Euthanasia is divided into types, categorized into voluntary, involuntary and eugenic. 
The first type is voluntary or active euthanasia, which is determined by an action and which takes place deliberately by assigning the process of ending a person's life by a third person. The aim of the action is to accelerate the arrival of death in the "dying" person.

The second type of euthanasia is involuntary or passive euthanasia. In this case, the doctor does not cause the death by administering a substance, but interrupts the medication given to the patient or disconnects the medical devices that kept them alive. In this case euthanasia does not come from the positive energy of the doctor but from omission.

The position of the Church is that it is against euthanasia. The reason is because it is considered murder.

From the moment one interferes in the other's life, blocks it and cuts it off and deprives them of the right to live, this is pure murder.

No one has the right to take another's life even if there is pain and sorrow. Only Jesus Christ gives it, and only he takes it.

"The life of every living thing is in His hand, as well as the breath of all mankind." Man's life is a gift from God, according to Job (12:10). It is the source of all good things. It is the space in which the self finds its expression, the grace of God meets with the free will of man and his salvation takes place.

The Church accepts euthanasia from God but not from man himself.

The trials, the problems, the pains in the course of human life are means which force people to humble themselves, opening the way of the divine search and causes the miracle and the sign of divine grace and divine presence.

In fact, euthanasia may sound like a dignified and peaceful death, but in essence, and this must be emphasized, it is assisted suicide, a combination of murder and suicide (see "The Position of the Church on the Issue of Euthanasia" - a 2017 Presentation by the Late Metropolitan of Fthiotidos Nicholas). 

At the root of the problem is that people put quality of life above its value. Life is self-worth in itself, even if it has pain and sorrow.

Life is a value, and the phenomenon of grief in the Church has its purpose, to lead to something, as the President of the Synodal Committee of Bioethics, Metropolitan George of Paphos, very aptly emphasized.

The Church can never participate in the taking of life.

The only form of euthanasia accepted by the Church is "spiritual euthanasia", ie the alleviation of the fear of death, which is achieved by the preparation of the soul of the dying person and the support of his family.

It would be good before speaking on the various issues of human rights, to sit down and study and experience the Christian life, faith and tradition.

To place human rights above the gifts of God, the Provider of life, we consider this complete ignorance of Christian ideals.

Every human being derives their value not from their individual interests or rights, but from the fact that they are created "in the image and likeness of God".

In short, our Holy Church firmly believes in the immortality of the soul, in the resurrection of the body, in eternal reality, in pain as the "marks of the body of our Lord Jesus" (Gal. 6:17), in trials as occasions and opportunities for salvation, in the possibility of developing a society of love between people, while every death that is the result of human decisions and choices, no matter how "good, calm and dignified" it may be, is rejected as an "insult" against God.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.