What would the martyrs of the Church think about Belgium’s euthanasia law?


Late last week the country of Belgium became the first nation in the world to allow terminally ill persons of any age to be euthanized.

The controversial bill was passed by Belgium’s Parliament 86-44 and is expected to be signed by Catholic King Philippe sometime in the coming days.

Despite 60% of the Belgium population identifying as members of the Roman Catholic Church, the small European country will now have the dubious distinction of being home to the most progressive euthanasia laws on the planet.


There’s little need to discuss how barbaric this law really is. Hiding behind the mask of empathy, fanatical worshippers of the idol of choice will now be able to entice society’s most vulnerable members into making the gravely sinful act of meeting our Lord face to face not according to His terms but according to their own.

Proponents of the law tell us that the euthanasia of minors will only occur in specific circumstances and that it will be carefully regulated. In other words, only during safe, legal and rare occasions will the procedure be carried out on children.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The truth of the matter is that like abortion, this law will be abused and will encourage other countries to adopt similar reckless attitudes towards end of life care.

However noble supporters of euthanasia laws think their intentions are, they are blinded by the fact that suffering is something we all must endure. It is, in fact, part of the divine plan.

To be sure, some of us are given crosses that are heavier than others. Some less.

But when it comes to death, we have to remind ourselves that no servant is greater than his master. And Jesus Christ, being the savior of all mankind, underwent a brutal death.

Not only was Christ nailed to a piece of wood, he was scourged at a pillar, adorned with a crown of thorns, rejected by mobs of Jews who just days earlier praised his name, and was forced to carry his own cross. What makes us think that we have a “right” to a less painful death? Are we greater than our savior?

The final hours we spend on this earth is a special time in our life that God has prepared for us. According to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, it will be our time to share in the passion of our Lord. This necessarily means that we will be tempted to not go through with it the way God wants us to.

But if we are obedient to God’s will and trust in Him like the martyrs of the Church did, we will be able to endure any suffering He gives us.

St. Lawrence accepted his suffering when he was killed on a gridiron

St. Lawrence accepted his suffering when he was killed on a gridiron

True, the martyrs of the Church, before entering into eternal bliss with God, endured many horrific chastisements. Some were eaten alive. Others were burned at the stake. Others were cooked on iron grills and some were stoned to death.

Yet, for embracing the painful path that was laid before them, these selfless followers of Christ planted the seeds of the Church. Their obedience and suffering won special graces from God that has helped sustain His Church for two thousand years.

Imagine, for a moment, if these saints had listened to the Belgium Parliament and chose to not take up their crosses? Imagine if St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, ran away and hid from his accusers instead of accepting being stoned to death. What would the Church be like if he had had not obeyed the will of God? What would the world be like?

The suffering God has planned for us in our final days serves a greater purpose than we know. Many times these sufferings are meant to procure the salvation of others or to lessen the time we ourselves have to spend in purgatory. Euthanasia, by virtue of the fact that it disallows us from suffering, rejects God’s plan. And by partaking in it, we replace the will of the Creator with the will of the creature.

But, as creatures, this is a choice we are not allowed to make. Just like we didn’t get to decide when our life began we don’t get to decide when our life will end. Pray for those lawmakers in Belgium and across the world who think that we do.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Stephen Kokx is a freelance writer and adjunct professor of political science living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Peace and Justice. His writing on religion, politics and Catholic social teaching has appeared in a number of outlets, including Crisis Magazine, The American Thinker and his hometown paper The Grand Rapids Press. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and is a graduate of Aquinas College and Loyola University Chicago. Follow Stephen on twitter @StephenKokx

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