Catholic Teaching on End-of-life Issues
This one-day workshop, while providing a commentary and an explanation of Part Five of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, will also provide health care professionals in Catholic facilities with an opportunity to follow developments in the field of pain control and pain management, and to discuss issues and voice their concerns on a matter of ultimate import for who we are as a human community.
GOAL OF THE WORKSHOP:
To provide health care professionals who work in Catholic health care facilities with an understanding of Church teaching on matters pertaining to the end-of-life issues. According to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, an official document promulgated by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2001:
The task of medicine is to care even when it cannot cure. Physicians and their patients must evaluate the use of the technology at their disposal. Reflection on the innate dignity of human life in all its dimensions and on the purpose of medical care is indispensable for formulating a true moral judgment about the use of technology to maintain life. The use of life-sustaining technology is judged in light of the Christian meaning of life, suffering and death. Only in this way are two extremes avoided: on the one hand, an insistence on useless or burdensome technology even when a patient may legitimately wish to forgo it, and, on the other hand, the withdrawal of technology with the intention of causing death.
WHO WILL BENEFIT?
The workshop is intended to be of benefit for all who serve in Catholic facilities, not only those involved in geriatric care. In addition, the workshop will prove invaluable to those who serve on ethics committees, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Others will profit as well: Sponsors, CEOs, Medical Directors, VPs for Nursing, Directors of Social Work, Mission Directors, and Directors of Pastoral Care. Physicians and nurses are especially welcome.
OVERALL DESIGN: There will be 4 presentations with time set aside for participation and discussion. A variety of teaching aids will be used. Participants will be provided with the complete text of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.
- Compatibility of Faith and Reason: The compatibility of faith and reason is stressed in the opening session which presents the participants with an overview of the Roman Catholic tradition of moral reflection. The resources of faith and reason are examined, and pertinent passages from scripture are examined to see what the bible has to say on end-of-life issues. Because of their importance to Catholic moral reflection, special attention is devoted to the areas of the natural moral law and the role of conscience.
- The Major Concerns: What are the major concerns of health care professionals as they help patients face terminal illness in a Catholic facility? Panelists discuss end-of-life issues from their own experience in their respective fields: oncology, pain management, nursing, administration, and Hospice.
- Kevorkian, Physician-assisted Suicide, PVS, and the Dutch Experiment: these and other standard items found in daily newspaper headlines serve to introduce this session which is meant to provide the participants with the opportunity to make their voices and concerns heard as the workshop progresses.
- Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services: Participants examine Church teaching at work in Part Five of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, "Issues in Care for the Dying", especially Directives 55 through 66. Special attention is devoted to the care of patients in the Persistent Vegetative State. What is and what is not permissible in Catholic facilities will be discussed. As in earlier sessions, ample time for questions is provided.