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The end of Christian influence in France may be here

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French President Emmanuel Macron attends a conference on the end-of-life, after a panel of citizens worked on the issue in recent months, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France 3 April, 2023. (OSV News photo/Aurelien Morissard, Pool via Reuters)

French deputies began to work on the proposed “end of life” bill 27 May, which, as it now stands, promises to be extremely permissive regarding euthanasia and medically assisted suicide.

From 13-17 May, a special commission made up of 71 parliamentarians worked to propose over 3,000 amendments to the government bill. As presented to the entire parliamentary assembly on 27 May, the bill would be even more flexible than the laws already in force in Canada or Belgium — the latter considered the world’s most liberal law on physician-assisted suicide.

Earlier in April, 80 healthcare professionals, philosophers, representatives of religious denominations and associations addressed the deputies of the parliamentary commission, Catholic bishops among them. Archbishop Pierre d’Ornellas of Rennes and Archbishop Vincent Jordy of Tours, who is the vice president of the French bishops’ conference, expressed their strong disagreement with the bill, which paves the way for euthanasia and medically assisted suicide.

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“The dignity of a human society consists in accompanying life until death, not in facilitating death,” the French bishops declared on 24 April.

At the same time, the Christian point of view may get little attention in France where, according to opinion polls, 90 per cent of citizens are in favour of “active assistance in dying.”

Father Bruno Saintôt, head of the Biomedical Ethics Department in Paris’ Centre Sèvres, a Jesuit research institute, warned that such opinion polls may be corrupted in methodology, “You have to pay attention to the questions asked by polls,” he told OSV News.

“The terms ‘euthanasia’ and ‘assisted suicide’ are not mentioned in the government’s bill, even though they are central to it,” Father Saintôt pointed out.

“It is a serious matter to want to numb consciences in this way!” For Father Saintôt, the discussed bill can be seen as “the marker of the end of a society influenced by Christianity.”

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