Advance Directives Reform

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops advocates advance directives reform legislation that recognizes the dignity of a natural death. Human intervention that would deliberately cause, hasten, or unnecessarily prolong the patient’s death violates the dignity of the human person. Reform efforts should prioritize the patient, while also recognizing the emotional and ethical concerns of families, health care providers, and communities that want to provide the most compassionate care possible.

Advance Care Directives

Catholic Teaching: Why is this important to the Church?

The natural desire to keep our loved ones with us drives our decisions and actions when facing loss. It is even a topic in the Gospel of John (Chapter 11:1-45) when Mary and Martha, devastated at the death of their brother, Lazarus, call upon Jesus to bring him back. Upon Jesus’ arrival at the home Martha cries out, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). For two thousand years this prayer has echoed through homes, villages, and even hospitals. The sentiment is also present as we face our own deaths. Despite our belief in the resurrection, it springs from our hearts as we face death. Even Jesus echoed a version of this prayer on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Yet He understood that His death was necessary for our salvation.

All human life is a gift from God, and is therefore innately sacred. We strive to live a life that is worthy of our dignity, and that promotes the dignity of others. This respect for life is lifelong – from conception, which is the moment of fertilization, to natural death. As Catholics discern end-of-life care, it is critical to view decisions through this lens of the inherent sanctity of human life, including life in its final stages, life that is in fact dying. Thus the Catholic Church rejects medical decision making based on the flawed “quality of life” arguments as these are often used to falsely justify euthanasia.

The policy positions taken on end-of-life care are based on centuries of Church teaching on the life and dignity of the human person as an integrated and unified body and soul.

Teaching from Magisterium on Death and Dying

This presentation is a review of the teaching of the Church on end-of-life care including selections from Evangelium Vitae, the Declaration on Euthanasia, and writings of Pope Pius XII, Pope Pail VI, and Pope Saint John Paul II. Relevant bio-ethical principles that make up the foundation of this teaching will also be covered including the right to life, autonomy, totality and integrity, double effect and prudential judgment.