End of life: The response of French Protestant and Catholic leaders


While the President of the Republic has just announced the launch of a citizen consultation on the end of life, the Protestant Federation of France wants to participate in the debate and recalls “the structuring principles which guide its ethical reflection” on this subject. The French bishops come out against euthanasia in a column published in Le Monde. 

Last Tuesday, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron announced the launch a broad public consultation on the end of life with a view to a possible new "legal framework" by the end of 2023.

This announcement, which comes when for the first time the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) said it was in favor of the legalization of euthanasia, reacted to the representatives of Protestant and Catholic faiths.

The Protestant Federation of France (FPF) has notably published a statement in response to the CCNE report.

Fear of “economic or ideological reasons”

In this document, the Protestants claim to welcome “the CCNE's encouragement to deploy the public health measures necessary for the development of palliative care as well as for a better knowledge and application of the Leonetti-Clayes law”. They also write to take note of “the reservations expressed by eight CCNE members” and share “the fear” that “the proposed legislative development is mainly motivated by economic or ideological reasons”.

The FPF adds that it supports "the prospect of a citizens' convention and a major national debate" and announced that in consultation with the other heads of religions in France, it will participate in the debate "in an active way".

In conclusion, the FPF recalls “the four structuring principles that guide its ethical reflection on the end of life”:

  • God is the origin of all life. For Christians, dignity is intrinsic to every person because he is created in the image of God; it is neither acquired nor lost.
  • Life is a gift, a grace. It is part of an interdependence, where everyone is, at the same time and successively, helped and helping.
  • Finitude is a structuring element of the human condition.
  • The principle of brotherly compassion with the most vulnerable.

The bishops of France also spoke out on this subject by publishing on September 16 a Tribune against euthanasia in the newspaper Le Monde.

“We hear the questions of our society. We are sensitive to the suffering of people who are ill at the end of their life or very severely affected by serious pathologies. We perceive the distress of those around them, overwhelmed by their suffering, even despaired by a feeling of powerlessness. We know well that the questions of the end of life and the approach of death cannot be approached in a simplistic way, ”they write in the opening.

Solidarity and fraternity

This plea is above all a call for the development of palliative care units. The bishops indeed recall that for “several decades, a balance has gradually been found in our country to avoid aggressive treatment and promote palliative care”. They also believe that this care “has advanced solidarity and fraternity in our country”.

However, they note that this care “is still absent from a quarter of French departments”, calling, like the CCNE, to eliminate these “palliative deserts”.

The signatories of this forum also urge the authorities not to address this issue "so sensitive and so delicate", "under pressure" and to take into account the result of a collective reflection.

“It is necessary to listen seriously and serenely to caregivers, patient associations, carers, philosophers, the different religious traditions to guarantee the conditions for authentic democratic discernment. »

"The responses that we will collectively be able to provide condition our ability to promote authentic fraternity", they write in conclusion, recalling that this can only be built "in a requirement of humanity where each human life is respected, supported, honored". .

Camille Westphal Perrier

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