Catholic Bioethics


THE term palliative care describes the treatment of symptoms, usually pain and psychological distress associated with illness, rather than an attempt to cure the underlying illness.  Here we will primarily focus on palliative care at the end of life  - or hospice as it is sometimes called.  However, it is important to note that palliative medicine will play an increasingly-important role in the practice of medicine in all stages of life as advances are made in methods of controlling pain and alleviating symptoms of chronic and incurable diseases.  We will note, in particular, that the Catholic Church encourages and commends palliative care as an important and unselfish kind of love, a special form of disinterested charity (Catechism §2279: formam constituunt excellentem caritatis gratuitae).

15.1. Bl. Pope John Paul II on Palliative Care

15.2. Palliative Care in Documents of the Magisterium
Catechism 2279  1994;  John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995;  Address of Benedict XVI to Ambassadors of Belgium to the Holy See;  USCCB Physician-Assisted Suicide - Threat to Improved Palliative Care 2012.

15.3. Palliative Care, Palliative Sedation and Opioids (Walsh, ch. 21), “Four Assumptions

15.4. Perinatal Hospice


1. Pope John Paul II on Palliative Care

2. Additional Documents of the Magisterium on Palliative Care (Catechism § 2279, 1994;  John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1985;  Addresses of Benedict XVI 2006 & 2007;  USCCB Physician-Assisted Suicide - Threat to Improved Palliative Care 2011).

2. Broeckaert, Bert, Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in Walsh, Palliative Medicine, 1st ed., ch 21  (2008 Saunders/Elsevier).

3. Z. Zylicz, “Palliative Care and Euthanasia in the Netherlands: Observations of a Dutch Physician,” in K. Foley and H. Hendin, The Case Against Assisted Suicide: For the Right to End-of-Life Care (Johns Hopkins University Press 2002), 122-43.

4. USCCB, “Life Matters - to the End of Our Days”.

5. [Encouraging hope at the end of life:] Biomedicine and Beatitude, Austriaco, ch.5 Bioethics at the End of Life (pp. 135-169, esp. pp. 167-169, Highlighting the Role of Virtue in Bioethics,

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