LTJ special themed edition: call for papers
A special themed edition of LTJ is being planned for August 2023 on the sensitive and controversial topic of Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD). VAD is a sensitive and controversial matter. The Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand has not released an official church position on VAD, but a statement by religious leaders in South Australia regarding the state’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020 was sent to all members of parliament for their consideration. According to the statement, voluntary assisted dying (also at times called voluntary euthanasia, or assisted suicide) is undermining human freedom, human dignity, and the common good. However, since voluntary assisted dying (VAD) is now operating and may be requested by people who meet the eligibility criteria in Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia, the church is confronted with the challenges arising from this legislation.
The special themed issue we are planning for the August 2023 edition offers opportunities to reflect on the implications of VAD and considerations surrounding the provision of high-quality end-of-life care. We hope that this edition of LTJ will assist church workers affected in any way by the legalisation of VAD in their respective areas of service.
Questions that could be explored in submissions for this special themed issue include:
- What are the differences between VAD and suicide?
- What is quality palliative care? How can the promises and perils of providing high-quality end-oflife care be challenged and critically examined? Are there ways that palliative care could be improved so that VAD may be rendered unnecessary? Is VAD necessarily inconsistent with quality palliative care or with a Christian (Lutheran) faith?
- In which ways could education about what high-quality palliative care is, be supported, and myths that create false and unwarranted fears and uncertainties about the dying process be refuted?
- In which ways are educational institutions, other church organisations, and leadership impacted by the legalisation of VAD and which responses could be given to those who look to church and educational leaders for guidance?
- What are the theological and/or moral foundations that need to be considered regarding religious objections to VAD, or with regard to holding and exercising conscientious objections for those providing services in the end-of-life care sector? Are there any theological grounds that would help resolve the conflict between VAD and the basic ethical principles of (Lutheranism) Christianity? Which aspects should be taken into account in theological discourse about voluntary assisted dying, and what are their implications for Lutheran theology and anthropology?
- In which ways does the provision of voluntary assisted dying place people at risk of (both active and passive) coercion, and how can the threat of coercion and moral distress be mitigated?
- What are the impacts and challenges of pastoral practice surrounding the provision of highquality palliative care or VAD?
- How can families of persons that have chosen VAD be supported?
1 A draft position paper on this topic is being discussed within the LCANZ.
3 New South Wales has passed legislation relating to voluntary assisted dying however the laws are not yet
operational and pastorally cared for? And what about pastors/chaplains/other pastoral care givers
- What can we learn from other churches across Australia, New Zealand and beyond with respect to the provision of high-quality end-of-life pastoral care, including in the aged care sector and the educational sector?
- What resources are available for those impacted by VAD and what resources available for those impacted by suicide? What further resources are required?
- What implications does VAD and its associated laws have on Christian pastoral care in all settings – for ordained clergy and lay workers, for paid church workers and volunteers?
- If, as a consequence of assisted dying laws, society re-assesses the value of life, and the individual is taught to devalue their own life, then what needs to be communicated to congregations, church workers, students in educational institutions, and beyond, to counter such trends?
- Regarding the provision of pastoral care, when does the ‘official’ beginning of the pastoral care journey in a VAD related space commence? Is it at the same point across the different laws?
- What does the ‘companioning’ journey of pastoral care look like and include? How does the ‘companioning’ journey differ between a VAD and non-VAD related scenario?
- Looking at the broader complexities surrounding dying well, what does a death with dignity look like, and which perspectives on the sanctity of life might be worthwhile considering?
Format of submissions
A series of reflection/opinion pieces (rather than formal articles) are preferred, 2–3 pages or 1000 words as a guide (longer pieces are also welcome), minimal footnoting, including resources you might want to alert others to.
Submissions will be accepted until 3 July 2023.
Please don’t hesitate to contact LTJ’s editors if you would like to submit an article for consideration and need a copy of the LTJ style guide.