Physician Assisted Suicide And The Orthodox Church

Below is a letter from Metropolitan Methodios concerning physician assisted suicide and the upcoming ballot question no. 2 here in Massachusetts.

To the Faithful of the Metropolis of Boston



On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, the residents of Massachusetts will go to the polls to vote for not only the next President of the United States, Senator and other elected officials, but there will also be three ballot questions for your consideration.  Ballot question number 2 is entitled, “Prescribing Medication to End Life” or Physician Assisted Suicide.

This past week, I hosted at the Metropolis Center together with Cardinal Sean O’Malley a meeting of the Inter-Faith Religious Community of Massachusetts.  Over 60 religious leaders representing a great diversity of brethren, not only from the Christian community but from the greater ecumenical community including the Islamic, were present and actively participated in the discussion which focused on this proposed legislation concerning physician assisted suicide.  (Our Jewish brethren were not present because they were celebrating a High Holy Day.)  If this legislation is passed, beginning on January 1, 2013, patients diagnosed with a terminal illness and given a prognosis of less than 6 months to live would have the ability to request a lethal prescription to end their lives.

For centuries now, all doctors take the Hippocratic Oath promising to practice medicine ethically and honestly, never doing harm to a patient.  This proposed law would be impossible to control, and would have serious societal ramifications.

As Fr. Stanley Harakas has written, “The Orthodox Church believes that to elevate euthanasia to a right or an obligation would bring it into direct conflict with the fundamental ethical affirmation that as human beings we are custodians of life which comes from a source other than ourselves.  Furthermore, the immense possibilities, not only for error but also for decision making based on self-serving ends which may disregard the fundamental principle of the sanctity of human life, argue against euthanasia.

Generally speaking, the Orthodox Church teaches that it is the duty of both physician and family to make the patient as comfortable as possible and to provide the opportunity for the exercise of patience, courage, repentance and prayer.  The Church has always rejected inflicted and unnecessary voluntary suffering and pain as immoral; but at the same time, the Church also has perceived in suffering a positive value that often goes unrecognized in the logic of the world in which we live, a world characterized by secularism, materialism, and individualism.

Euthanasia is a Greek word meaning ‘a good death’.  The only ‘euthanasia’ recognized in Orthodox ethics is that death in which the human person accepts the end of his or her life in the spirit of moral and spiritual purity, in hope and trust in God, and as a member of His kingdom.”


The Orthodox Church joins our brethren in the Ecumenical community, the American Medical Association, the Mass Medical Society and all people of good will in opposing question two on Election Day.  I ask you to prayerfully consider this vital Ballot Question carefully, discuss it fully with your Parish Priest, family and friends, and vote NO on Question 2 in order to preserve the sanctity and dignity of human life.

With Archpastoral love,


Metropolitan of Boston


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October 25th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Sets Of Seven

The other day Fr. Peter and I were reminiscing about taking classes with Fr. George Dragas.  I shared with Fr. Peter a memory of one class where a student in passing referred to one of the Ecumenical Councils and was a bit unsure of the date.  Fr. Dragas paused and said to us “You don’t know the dates and places of the councils?”.  Here we were just a year removed from Church History class and, well, no one could name them.  So he went to the board and wrote them all down from memory: Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431),  Chalcedon (451),  Constantinople (553),  Constantinople (680), and  Nicaea (787).  I realized at the time I should know them.  Did I then go and memorize the list?  Of course not.  But now I will do my best.  The conversation with Fr. Peter got me thinking…what other lists of seven should I know?  I realize this stuff could well be considered trivia but I imagine back in the day a cultured man would be expected to know such things, so why not?

So…The seven hills of Rome?  I can name off the top of my head the Palatine, Capitoline, Esquiline and Aventine.  After further review let’s add the Quirinal, Viminal and Caelian.  The seven deadly sins are gluttony, avarice, lust, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride (it is well worth exploring the original words to get a better translation and interpretation, though). We all know that the only extant wonder of the ancient world is the Great Pyramid of Giza.  How about the others?  The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria all spring to mind.  The others are the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia.  I have never really known what the “Seven Seas” specifically were but have always understood it as meaning the whole world.  And the Seven Dwarfs?  I don’t think the girls have watched that one yet, which means my memories are from thirty years ago.  Dopey?  Sleepy?  Sneezy?  That is about all I can name.  Let’s look those up as well…And according to this site Bashful, Doc, Happy and Grumpy (How could I forget that one?).


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October 3rd, 2012 by Fr. Greg