At The End of Life

A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decisions

Advances in medical technologies bring with them new means of curing disease and living longer, healthier lives than ever before. But they can also be the source of heightened patient anxiety about a needlessly prolonged, painful and expensive dying process. Medical advances bring with them new and complex questions with regard to medical treatments and moral decision-making.

Our Catholic faith offers both a long tradition of reflection and Church teaching to help guide us through these multifaceted issues. It is important not to let the struggle over such questions eclipse what should be transcendent and grace-filled moments in the dying process: attending to spiritual needs, healing broken relationships, and saying good-bye. The Church also teaches that the suffering of illness and dying is an opportunity for finding oneness with Christ. Suffering can be an instrument of redemption when we seek in faith to join our suffering to that of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. For Catholics, death is a doorway to eternal life. In the face of illness, suffering, and death, our faith assures us that we are created for eternal life. These fundamental underpinnings of our faith, derived from Sacred Scripture and our Catholic tradition, guide our decisions about end-of-life treatment.

Difficult decisions about the use of medical technology at the end of life may be made easier if we learn what the Catholic Church teaches on end-of-life issues and we take the time to express our wishes before illness strikes.


End of Life FAQ

Resources from the National Catholic Bioethics Center

Live Each Day with Dignity

What are the Church's teachings on end-of-life decisions?

FAQ on "Brain Death"

FAQ on the Persistent Vegetative State

Providing Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

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