Representatives from eight different religious communities in Portugal signed a joint statement opposing the legalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide in Portugal. The statement, signed on 16 May, comes less than a fortnight before Parliament prepares to vote on the issue.
The joint statement stresses the inherent dignity of all human beings, regardless of criteria such as “utility” or “quality of life”, insisting that “one’s dignity does not depend on anything other than existence as a person”.
The representatives of the different religious communities also highlight the importance of ensuring an adequate network of palliative care for everybody in the country, which at the moment does not exist, saying that although believers can find meaning in suffering, they all agree that unnecessary suffering should be avoided, and that futile treatment which only prolongs life is bad medicine.
The statement is signed by representatives of the Evangelical Alliance along with Seventh Day Adventists and Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities. An archpriest from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has signed on behalf of the small Orthodox community and Dom Manuel Clemente, Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, who is also president of the Portuguese Bishops Conference, for the Catholic Church.
In statements to the press during the signing ceremony, the Patriarch of Lisbon said he hopes that Parliament will take into account the opinions of the religious communities, but also of the many secular authorities who have spoken out against legalising euthanasia, including the current and former four presidents of the Portuguese Medical Association and the National Ethics Council.
Laws for legalising euthanasia have been put forward by MPs from the radical Left Bloc, the animal rights’ People Animals Nature party, the Green Party and the ruling Socialists. Of these four, only the animal rights party mentioned euthanasia in its manifesto before the last elections.
The issue will be voted on the 29th of May. If passed, it will require being signed by the President in order to be approved. Catholic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has already said he will not follow his personal convictions, but also has a track record of vetoing divisive laws which ignored expert advice.