Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
On April 16, representatives of different religious traditions and civil society came together at the Stefan-George House in Bingen to present perspectives on euthanasia. Pastor Olliver Zobel of the Evangelical Church of St. John, gave an opening speech in which he welcomed the 90 participants. He noted that out of the 10 interreligious dialogues his church had organized with the Bingen adult education center this discussion on euthanasia had attracted the most people.
Speaker Barbara Schoppmann of the St. Hildegard Maltese Hospice in Bingen drew on her professional experience in hospice care and her values as a Catholic. Citing that a primary worry of many patients is not to become a burden on others, she stated her concern that the choice of assisted suicide might be made on economic grounds or to lessen the burden of care on relatives. Udo Tessmer, chief executive of the International Society for Palliative Care and Life Support (IGSL), stressed the urgent need to promote palliative services so that patients are aware of what is available to them.
Pastor Ulrike Windschmitt, chaplain at the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, stressed that the starting position for Christians in the debate on euthanasia is the protection of life and the care of those who are suffering.
related article Faith Groups Unite on Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Issue Joint Statement On April 24, SGI sponsored a one-day interfaith symposium titled "Making a Difference--Faith Communities and the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons" at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington DC. In his presentation, Dr. Hüseyin Kurt, who is a consultant for the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) in Frankfurt and works at a nursing home that offers care for Muslims, stated that from an Islamic perspective because both life and health are gifts or loans from God, every person is obliged to protect them. Only God may decide to end a life.
Yoshiharu Matsuno of SGI-Germany represented Buddhism and stressed the crucial role of compassion and the need not only to alleviate physical pain, but also to provide social and psychological support to overcome the loneliness and isolation people face in dying.
Dr. Peter Waldmann from the Regional Association of Jewish Communities of Rhineland-Palatinate stated that to accompany the dying and mourners in their grief is among the highest of “good deeds” in Judaism.
Audience members and speakers then shared perspectives on dying and euthanasia during a discussion moderated by Dr. Ralf Kohl, trustee of the Bingen adult education center.
[Adapted from a report from SGI-Germany; photo courtesy of SGI-Germany]
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