Israeli Rabbis and Catholic Church Leaders Forge Historic Agreement on Treating the Terminally Ill

Israeli Rabbis and Catholic Church Leaders Forge Historic Agreement on Treating the Terminally Ill

...By Dorcas Funmi for TDPel Media.

Ethical Perspectives on Terminal Illness Explored in Historic Israeli Meeting

Israeli rabbis and Catholic Church leaders have come together to sign a joint declaration on the ethics of treating the terminally ill, denouncing assisted suicide and euthanasia while advocating for improved palliative care.


During their 17th bilateral meeting in Jerusalem, the delegations from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews discussed the Jewish and Catholic approaches to terminal illness.

Emphasis on Compassionate Palliative Care and Rejecting Euthanasia

The joint declaration emphasized the importance of compassionate palliative care and the need to make maximal efforts to alleviate pain and suffering for the terminally ill.

It referenced a previous joint declaration from October 2019, where Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders rejected active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide while promoting palliative care.

The Catholic delegation was led by Cardinal Kurt Koch, joined by several prominent Catholic figures, while Rabbi Rasson Arussi, Director General of the Chief Rabbinate, headed the Jewish delegation.

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This joint declaration between Israeli rabbis and Catholic Church leaders reflects their shared commitment to upholding the sanctity of human life and rejecting practices such as assisted suicide and euthanasia.

The agreement to prioritize compassionate palliative care aligns with the belief that it is the duty of both religious communities to support and care for the terminally ill.


The joint declaration is significant not only for the religious implications but also for its potential impact on public discourse and policy-making regarding end-of-life care.

Affirming Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

The Catholic presentation at the meeting highlighted the guiding principles for treating the terminally ill, including Pope Francis‘ emphasis on the erosion of the understanding of the value of human life in contemporary culture.

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The joint statement reaffirmed the dignity of every human being, grounded in the religious affirmation of the sanctity of human life shared by Jews and Catholics.

The joint declaration reaffirms the shared belief in the inherent dignity of every human being and the sanctity of human life, as understood by both the Jewish and Catholic traditions.

This alignment provides a strong foundation for their joint stance against practices that undermine the value of life, such as euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The declaration emphasizes the need to protect life and reject the notion that any human party has the authority to determine its value or determine the time of death.

Addressing the Complexity of End-of-Life Situations

The meeting’s discussions delved into guidelines for the terminally ill as prescribed by Jewish tradition and their broader implications worldwide.

The joint declaration recognized the complexity of end-of-life situations, acknowledging that ethical and religious considerations must be applied on a case-by-case basis, accounting for individual circumstances and needs.

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The acknowledgement of the complexity surrounding end-of-life situations demonstrates an understanding that ethical decisions in these matters are nuanced and require careful evaluation of specific circumstances.

The joint declaration underscores the importance of taking into account the unique needs of each patient and adopting an individualized approach to provide appropriate care and support.

A Visit to Shaarei Zedek Medical Center and Prayers for Healing

As part of the meeting, the delegations visited Shaarei Zedek Medical Center in Israel to observe the implementation of these principles in the treatment of the terminally ill.

The joint statement expressed gratitude to God for His creation and requested blessings for all those who are sick, as well as for those engaged in the healing and preservation of life.


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