The Church teaches that human life is sacred and we have a duty to preserve it. However, this duty is not absolute as we also believe that death is the pathway to eternal life. Not all illness can be cured and at times questions arise involving the use of ordinary and extraordinary means— when are certain treatments of benefit to a patient and when can such treatments be discontinued?
It is appropriate for us to seek guidance about the use of life sustaining treatments and advance directives allow you to make known your wishes to others. Two advance directives are a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. What should a living will say and to whom should I give durable power of attorney for health care decisions?
Every person experiences suffering, and our faith teaches that meaning can be found in suffering. However, no one is obliged to experience pain. Today, in most cases it is possible to relieve pain of dying persons through the appropriate use of pain medication and other treatments.
To find information and answers surrounding these issues, visit the following sites:
Address of Pope Benedict XVI to the 22nd International Congress of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, November 17, 2007
Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) by Pope John Paul II, March 25, 1995 Click here to link to the entire document. Sections 64-67 - "It is I who bring both death and life" (Dt 32:39): the tragedy of euthanasia."
"Killing the Pain, Not the Patient: Palliative Care vs. Assisted Suicide" by Richard Doerflinger and Carlos F. Gomez, M.D., Ph.D