The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 23, Issue 2, Summer 2023

Recommendations for Revising the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services

Edward James Furton
Pages 303-314

Narrative for Part Five of the Ethical and Religious Directives

Part Five is in considerable need of revision. There have been many developments in medicine and health care that present serious moral challenges to the teachings of the Church. The recommendations below include new emphasis on palliative care and hospice, the right of Catholics to receive the sacraments and visits from the family during illness, further safeguards to protect those in a persistent vegetative state, the immorality of voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED), the permissibility of do not resuscitate (DNR) orders, the limited use of palliative sedation, and the requirement that the standards for determining death be rigorously applied by medical professionals. Other minor recommendations seek to bring greater clarity to the existing directives.