NORTH BRABANT, Netherlands, August 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Dutch priest is standing his ground after following directives from the country’s bishops that anyone who opts for euthanasia is not entitled to a church funeral, according to Radio Netherlands.
Father Norbert van der Sluis, from the parish of Liempde in North Brabant, denied the Catholic rite of funeral to a man who ended his life through euthanasia, reports ANP. Van der Sluis said that he felt bound to uphold the rules which the Dutch bishops have agreed upon.
“When it comes to euthanasia, my answer has to be no,” he said.
The priest’s adherence to the Dutch bishops’ directives has sparked a local protest, caused the church council to halt a fundraising campaign to repair the church organ, and sparked outrage in the Dutch media.
Father van der Sluis’ parish council has reportedly demanded an apology from the priest and told him that he had better change his policy.
“If he does not, you’d better get another priest,” said a board member from the diocese of Den Bosch to the parish council.
Fr. John Lemire, the Chairman of Priests for Life Canada, told LifeSiteNews that the situation in Holland “is a very interesting and delicate situation” that affects not only the Church in Holland, “but the Church in general today.”
“The Church has firmly taught over the centuries that one is only morally responsible for rational decisions that he or she makes,” he said. “If medical science and psychology come to understand that a person is capable of making a rational decision to end his/her life, this then raises new questions and pastoral responses from the Church since a person would therefore be morally responsible for his or her decisions and the direct taking of life is a never morally acceptable.”
The family of the euthanized man has asked for another priest to preside over the funeral in the same parish. But Father van der Sluis has said that this is unacceptable.
“As a matter of conscience I cannot allow a fellow priest to say the funeral mass in my church,” he said.
Prominent conservative writer Wesley J. Smith has taken issue with the criticism that the priest is receiving. Refusing a funeral wouldn’t be my preference, but it was the priest’s, and doesn’t his conscience deserve at least equal respect to that of the decedent’s to receive doctor-injected death?” he said.
“Here’s the bottom line. All of this talk of ‘choice’ in the culture of death is just talk. It is really about enforced moral conformity.”