HANOVER, N.J. — In a departure from centuries of Christian doctrine, the Episcopal Diocese of Newark has deemed suicide morally acceptable for the terminally ill and those living with persistent physical pain.
A majority of the 200 delegates to the diocese’s annual convention voted Jan. 27 to adopt such a resolution. The delegates also agreed that assisting suicide was morally acceptable in such cases.
“Nowhere in the Bible does it say that there is a value to suffering simply for the sake of suffering,” said the Rev. Lawrence Falkowski of Holy Trinity Church in West Orange.
Bishop John Shelby Spong, the leader of the 40,000-member diocese and an advocate of assisted suicide, said the time has come for religious faiths to “redefine what life means.”
The suicide resolution will be brought to the floor of the national Episcopal Church convention in 18 months, Spong said.
“What we are hoping for is to open up a dialogue,” he said. “I never want to see the church on the side of death and not life.”
The Episcopal Church holds that it is morally wrong to take a human life in order to relieve suffering caused by incurable illness.