Austrian Archbishop stresses end of life a fundamental moment of life itself

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Austria, Archbishop Franz Lackner, has spoken out on behalf of the Austrian bishops, who are appealing to the legislature to take restrictive measures to prevent the legalization of assisted suicide.

By Vatican News staff reporter

During a press conference at the end of the summer plenary session of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Lackner stressed, once again, that the bishops cannot support the Constitutional Court’s decision to lift a ban on assisted suicide.

The court argued in December that the country’s criminal code is unconstitutional because its ban on assisted suicide violates the right to self-determination. 

In his address, the Archbishop stressed a number of fundamental points such as the safeguarding and expansion of suicide prevention: “Prevention must remain the State’s declared objective in the field of health,” he said. “There is a risk of entering into a situation where a distinction is made between good and bad suicide.”

The bishops underline that assisted suicide prevention includes the issue of palliative care and hospices, which must be widespread nationwide and affordable, just as psychosocial support in crisis situations must be available “for all those who need it”, they say.

According to the bishops, interference by third parties must also be prevented by law; there is also a need for accurate and reliable diagnoses, the provision of mandatory counselling on the concrete possibilities of palliative care and hospices, as well as psychotherapy. In addition, the bishops call for assisted suicide not to be classified as a service of doctors or any other health or welfare profession, which are “at the service of life and not death”.

Archbishop Lackner went on to say that the Constitutional Court had not yet lifted the “ban on killing on demand. “This ban should be secured by a constitutional majority in Parliament. “The beginning and the end of life are fundamental moments of life itself,” he concluded, “the more man assumes to place the beginning and the end under an interest-driven feasibility, the more he also weakens the time of life that runs between these two moments.