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Press Release

Press Release

Doctoral Thesis on The Attitudes Towards Euthanasia among the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Clergy

Miia Kontro.
Miia Kontro

Master of Theology Miia Kontro’s doctoral thesis in Practical Theology will be put forth for public defence at The Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology at Åbo Akademi University.

The thesis is entitled Attitudes Towards Euthanasia among the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Clergy.

The public defence of the doctoral thesis takes place on 26 May 2023 at 1PM in Auditorium Argentum, Aurum, Henrikinkatu 2, Turku. Professor Auli Vähäkangas, University of Helsinki will serve as opponent and Professor Emerita Bernice Sundkvist, Åbo Akademi University, as custos. You can also follow the defence online.


The issue of legalizing euthanasia has been a longstanding topic of discussion in Finnish society for the past few decades. The support for euthanasia has increased in Finland among the general population, as well as among physicians and nurses. This study aims to address the gap in euthanasia research by focusing on the attitudes of the clergy, a group that has not been extensively studied in relation to this topic. The study utilizes both quantitative and qualitative data to examine the factors that contribute to the clergy’s attitudes towards euthanasia.

The theoretical framework of this study is based on the concept of religiosity, specifically in the theory of lived religion, which allows for an investigation of the interplay between individual attitudes, cultural context, and the influence of institutional structures, such as the Church. The research data consists of 19 published newspaper articles by Church experts, an electronic survey distributed through the Clergy Union of Finland, and six interviews with Finnish Evangelical Lutheran pastors. Data were collected between 2018 and 2021.

This dissertation comprises four separate publications and a summary article. The first publication examines the official statements and discourses of the experts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland regarding euthanasia. The second publication presents the quantitative results from the electronic survey of the Finnish clergy’s attitudes towards euthanasia. This publication elucidates the distribution of attitudes among the clergy and the impact of gender, religiosity, and the diocese on attitudes towards euthanasia. The third publication explores the narratives behind euthanasia attitudes, particularly the influence of family background and various life events. The fourth publication delves into the religious justification further to explain the influence of religiosity on euthanasia attitudes. This summary contributes to the understanding of the clergy’s attitudes towards euthanasia, shedding light on the factors and religious justifications that underpin these attitudes. The findings demonstrate that divergent interpretations of doctrinal views and personal life experiences explain the differences in euthanasia attitudes among the clergy. These findings suggest that these factors are also relevant to other ethical and moral topics within the Church and should be taken into account in ongoing discussions.


Miia Kontro was born in 1982 in Nastola. She can be reached by email at miia.kontro@gmail.com.


The doctoral thesis can be read online through the Doria publication archive.

Click here for a press photo of the doctoral student.


Instructions on how to follow the doctoral defence remotely

To follow the defence, you need the Zoom software or the Google Chrome browser. You do not need to create a Zoom account to follow the defence. If you install the application, you participate by clicking on the meeting link, after which you should allow the link to open in the Zoom app.