As we face the realities of a pandemic, pastoral leaders and families need an understanding of Catholic teaching on medical decision-making and end-of-life issues to offer ethical and compassionate counsel.
The New York State Catholic Conference website has several resources, including a video and booklet, summarizing the Church’s teaching. Topics include: the sacredness of human life; eternal life; ordinary vs. extraordinary treatments; benefits vs. burdens; nutrition & hydration; and pain management.
Beginning the conversation about these topics with loved ones and those in our care can be difficult. Research shows, however, that a large majority of people do want to discuss their wishes, ask their questions, and engage their loved ones in the process. Most feel a sense of ease once they do. Encourage those in your care to begin with prayer for all the necessary graces, especially discernment and courage.
If you encounter ethical situations that require more specific guidance, please contact your pastor for an appropriate referral.