The Orthodox Church Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, issued a statement on the termination of life, including murder, capital punishment abortion, suicide and euthanasia.
The Assembly released their statement as a swathe of US states prepare to clamp down on abortion if the Supreme Court decides – as is expected – to overturn a landmark ruling that legalised abortion nationwide. The document leaked in May suggests the court will strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision when it delivers its ruling – possibly next week. This would hand states a free rein to limit or ban terminations.
The release of the statement seems to be in preparation of the expected overturn of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which made abortion legal in the US, or in most states.
Prepared by its Committee for Church and Society, and affirmed by the Assembly in accordance with the Ecumenical Orthodox Church, the statement seeks to clarify the Church position and was passed on Sunday, June 19.
The Assembly’s statement emphasised that the “sacredness of life is shared with all creatures and creation fashioned and brought into existence” by god.
The church statement said that each human person is “created in the image and likeness of God” and is thus “sacred and inviolable.” It also referred to the canons, dogma, and “moral code across the centuries” which affirms for them the “understanding of human life from the womb to the tomb.”
“All human life is both sacred and inviolable, regardless of age, health, or any other status. Human life, including free will, is rightly understood as a gift from God, meant to be cherished and respected,” the Assembly confirmed.
Abortion and suicide is considered by the church to be a “deliberate ending of human life” and a rejection of its “sacredness and inviolability” which they termed as “unacceptable.”
“This includes the death of the unborn by abortion, murder in peacetime or in war, suicide, and euthanasia. The Church mourns the premature end of a human life, and we seek to minister with compassion and mercy in these situations.” the Assembly said.
Murder was condemned as it is in “scripture and the practice of the Church, as heard in the Old Testament “You shall not murder”.
“Murder is never condoned by the Church, yet, in this broken world, violence, including killing, is unfortunately a daily reality.” the Assembly said.
The Assembly criticised war, destruction and the displacement of people. Suicide the statement said was “a rejection of God’s gift of life” and an “act of self-murder.”
Euthanasia was also rejected, “The Church grieves the pain and suffering many people experience in this life, but it cannot and does not condone any form of euthanasia.”
Capital punishment was also struck down as it goes against the understanding of life “as sacred” .
The two controversial positions in the statement by the Assembly were the anti abortion and anti euthanasia positions.
“The Church appreciates, respects, and cares for all manner of human life and, therefore, never condones abortion” the Assembly underscored.
The Assembly did acknowledge “rare but serious medical instances where mother and child may require extraordinary actions.”
“Yet, these situations are unique and unusual and do not condone abortion as a norm in any way.” the Assembly statement read.
The Church the statement read, “uncompromisingly reject any acceptance of abortion.”
In Australia abortion is legal in all states and territories under circumstances. Unlike the US abortion does not generate major controversy, even though there is opposition by faith based right to life groups.
In NSW abortion was removed from the Crimes Act of 1900 in October 2019 with the passage of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019.
Archbishop Makarios the head of the Archdiocese in Australia, openly supported ‘Stand For Life’ in opposition to the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW.
He was criticised by Greek secular communities and women’s groups.