UTRECHT, Netherlands, APR. 11, 2001 (ZENIT.org–AVVENIRE).- Cardinal Adrianus Simonis, the primate of the Netherlands, described the Dutch Senate´s approval of euthanasia Tuesday as a black day for Europe.
In the following interview, the archbishop of Utrecht expresses his sadness and shame over the Dutch situation. Euthanasia opponents were powerless to stop the government bloc, supported by the Greens. The reaction in the rest of Europe was swift. Germany feared that the Netherlands has become a “supermarket of death.”
–Q: Cardinal, what do you think of those who say that this was a historic day for your country?
–Cardinal Simonis: It was a black day for the Netherlands; there is nothing historical in this decision. Yet, not just for the Netherlands but for the whole of Europe. It is terrible that my country is the first to allow assisted killing.
This saddens me profoundly, especially because in the last few years the Dutch bishops´ conference has worked hard to prevent this from happening, sending letters to officials and the government, with very precise statements of condemnation. It is a tragic situation that fills me with shame.
–Q: Do you think the Netherlands is going too far with liberalization?
–Cardinal Simonis: Yes, the Netherlands is going too far, much too far, and this is the result of unbridled individualism. However, people can no longer allow themselves to be individualistic. As Christians we know that we form part of a society in which we have need of one another.
In the Netherlands, however, the first one who wants something believes that everything should be allowed. So, we are not aware of the consequences of our actions. For instance, look at the legalization of prostitution or marriage between homosexuals. We are faced with a negative sociological revolution. And this is the consequence, let´s say, of a diminished image of man and woman.
The Bible says: “Man has been created in the image and likeness of God,” but we have forgotten this, as we have forgotten that all our actions have an impact on society.”
–Q: Do you think the rest of Europe will follow Holland´s example?
–Cardinal Simonis: I´m very much afraid so. I´m afraid that in the whole of Western Europe there will be the same individualistic position and the same secularization. In any case, I have also been told that, with or without a law, euthanasia is already being practiced in several countries.
However, it is important that there be clear principles. These principles must be highlighted, especially in the education of youth, who must know how to distinguish what is right from what is wrong. Yes, euthanasia will continue to be practiced secretly, but we must continue to say it is not right. The norm must continue to be the norm.
–Q: What can the Church do to prevent the moral degradation of Dutch society?
–Cardinal Simonis: The Church must continue to say that life is the property of God, and to instruct people and explain that, although it is legalized, euthanasia is not allowed for Christians, and appeal to the conscience of doctors and hospital workers so that they will refuse to collaborate.
–Q: Do you think it is possible to evaluate scientifically what the euthanasia law describes as “unbearable sufferings”?
–Cardinal Simonis: This is a subjective judgment. However, it is very dangerous to create a scale of moral and psychological sufferings. Before, one spoke of euthanasia “at the end of life.” Now, there are also people of 40 years, and children, who request it. It is a completely subjective question.
According to the law, the doctor must judge what the patient´s psychological condition is, but he will apply his individualistic ideas and, therefore, the decision is very subjective. Moreover, there is too much pressure on the doctor. Although the law says he must consult another doctor, he can always call a friend who thinks like he does.
–Q: What do you think of the statements of the Ministers of Justice and Health, for whom “the right to life should not become an obligation to live”?
–Cardinal Simonis: It is a very dangerous affirmation. Mistaken messages are given this way. For us Christians, life is a gift, it belongs to God, and, therefore, it becomes an obligation until its end. The concept of suffering comes in here, which euthanasia tends to eliminate, without seeing its meaning.
I have tried in every way possible to make this concept understood, even by those without faith. Nevertheless, we will publish a very severe declaration of condemnation of the law for Christians, so that at least Christians will have a clear judgment.