While French society seems to be in favor of changing the legislation governing the end of life, French religious leaders are still trying to make another voice heard, each in their own way. Discreet since the launch of the Citizens’ Convention on the end of life, the representatives of religions are invited, Thursday, March 9, to the Elysée for a dinner bringing together several actors in the debate around the President of the Republic.
In the Catholic Church, we assumed throughout these months a certain withdrawal in the debate, to the benefit of the actors directly concerned. “The strategy was to highlight the caregivers more than the bishops”, we say to the Conference of Bishops of France (CEF), which will be represented at the Elysée by its president, Bishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort. “It worked because they mobilized: fifteen professional organizations expressed their opposition,” notes a bishop.
Religious leaders thus recall that they are not the only ones to oppose the legalization of active assistance in dying, desired by 78% of French people (1). “We are far from being the only ones, insists the chief rabbi of France, Haïm Korsia. The 800,000 nurses represented by the various professional organizations are not representatives of cults. However, it is as if society wanted to forget that their vocation as caregivers was directly affected by this subject. »
But today, how to weigh when a change in the law seems inevitable? The rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, Chems-eddine Hafiz, does not wish to place himself in a systematic opposition but to embody a constructive attitude. “We are not united against anything,” he insists. Of course, euthanasia and assisted suicide go against the principles of a Muslim, so I oppose it. But I do it in a positive way, explaining how we approach the issue. »
The Muslim leader thus wishes to take into account the evolutions of society. “We see in the various polls that the French prefer to resort to euthanasia rather than suffer,” he admits. Rather, we offer human support for people at the end of life, which helps to relieve them and give them a form of hope. “As for the dinner at the Élysée, Chems-eddine Hafiz is convinced of its usefulness: “We must participate in it, not to influence positions, but so that we take into consideration a certain number of elements. »
A vision of dialogue shared by Haïm Korsia who will defend Thursday evening the application of the Claeys-Leonetti law on palliative care in which he sees “a balance which prohibits pain”. For the chief rabbi of France, the games are not yet done. “I believe there is always a way to find an intellectual crest path” to reach a compromise. “It is very important to be present, to exchange and meet, to see where the hopes of each other are,” he adds.
For Christian Krieger, president of the Protestant Federation of France (FPF), the debate on the end of life raises “philosophical, human and anthropological” questions to which the pastor intends to contribute in order to provide answers. “We are going to submit the idea of a multi-year programming law concerning support for old age and the end of life, indicates the president of the FPF. We have no opposition in principle: we have a certain number of questions about man and old age. »
Within religious institutions, particularly Catholics, some voices are more circumspect about what could come out of the meeting with Emmanuel Macron. “I do not place great hopes in this type of meeting”, breathes a Catholic official, fearing an upcoming legalization of active assistance in dying. While waiting for a legal text to see the light of day, the Citizens’ Convention on the end of life must submit its recommendations to the government on April 2.