Belgian bishops criticise child euthanasia vote

Archbishop Leonard

Belgium’s Catholic bishops have criticised a parliamentary vote paving the way for sick children and dementia patients to choose euthanasia, reports The Catholic Herald.

'The voices of religious leaders have plainly not been listened to,' said Jesuit Father Tommy Scholtes, bishops’ conference spokesman.

'While everyone wants a gentle death, public opinion appears unaware that euthanasia is a technical act that ends life abruptly. This is why we reject it and believe palliative care offers a better solution,' he told the Catholic News Service.

He said Church leaders would continue to back a silent vigil near Parliament in Brussels to highlight the dangers, but he expected the legislation to receive final approval early next year.

The Belgian Senate voted last week to approve the legislation, which would allow euthanasia for dementia patients and children 'capable of discernment' and 'affected by incurable illness or suffering.'

Meanwhile, the bishops’ conference president, Archbishop Andre Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels, said all main faiths in Belgium were united against the proposed measure, adding that he regretted mass protests could not be mobilised as effectively as in neighbouring France.

'We don’t easily raise our voices here, but this is something extremely important, and I hope the political class will be persuaded to reflect,' Archbishop Leonard told KTO Catholic television on Saturday.

FULL STORY Belgian bishops criticise vote to allow children to choose euthanasia