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Nurses provide care to a patient in palliative care (CNS/Philippe Wojazer-Reuters)

Catholic Church representatives have welcomed a ruling by Europe’s top human rights court that countries have no obligation to allow physician-assisted suicide. Source: OSV News.

However, they also voiced concern at suggestions that it could be recognised as a human right in the future.

“This judgment largely concerns procedural questions – but it’s a very good result,” said Fr Marco Ganci, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the Council of Europe.

“It was suggested refusal to permit assisted suicide violated the right to private family life set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. This has now been rejected.”

The Italian priest was reacting to the June 13 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, that Hungary had not violated human rights by refusing to allow a terminally ill patient to be helped to die.

Fr Ganci said the Holy See, although represented at two dozen Europe-based international organisations, was not part of the European court system and would not speculate on details of this latest court judgment.

Meanwhile, a Catholic bishop from the UK also praised the latest ruling but cautioned about its long-term implications.

“I welcome the judgment that there’s no right to physician-assisted death, as well as the court’s recommendation that high-quality palliative care, involving access to effective pain management, is essential to ensuring a dignified end to life,” said Bishop John Sherrington, lead for life issues at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

“However, the view that the European Convention has to be interpreted and applied in light of the present day, with appropriate legal measures kept under review, is disturbing,” he said


European Church leaders welcome assisted-suicide ruling (By Jonathan Luxmoore, OSV News)