Death and Dying
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Supportive Care Coalition
Catechism of the Catholic Church
2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special
respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives
as normal as possible.
2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in
putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons.
It is morally unacceptable.
Thus an act or omission which, of
itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering
constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human
person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The
error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not
change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be
forbidden and excluded.
Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous,
extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be
legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one
does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely
accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is
competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for
the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must
always be respected.
2279 Even if
death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person
cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to
alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of
shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human
dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only
foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special
form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.
Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care
Charter for Health Care Workers
Chapter Three: Death
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Declaration on Euthanasia
Conference of Catholic Bishops
Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care
Especially Part Five: Issues in Care for the Dying