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Catholic Living Will

Catholic Declaration on Life and Death

Included is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, which designates the person to speak for the patient who cannot speak for himself or herself, whether terminal or not.  Each of these documents should be discussed with family members and the surrogate while the signer is competent.

Space is provided for each person to add his or her own personal directions.  For example, a woman of childbearing age may want to add:  If I should be pregnant, and that condition is known to my physician, then every means should be taken to preserve the life of my unborn child, including the continuation of life prolonging procedures.

Organ donors may want to add:  I hereby donate any needed organs or parts of my body, to take effect upon my death, as an anatomical gift.

Some may want to add special directions such as:  If my death is imminent, and I am unable or unwilling to take food naturally, then I would not want artificial nutrition or hydration used to prolong my life.

Decisions to withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration need special care.  There should always be a strong presumption in favor of their use, however, in instances when they become excessively burdensome (i.e. too painful, physically damaging, suppress too greatly mental capacity, be psychologically repugnant, or impose excessive expense) or when they become useless because the patientís death is imminent (i.e. a physician can predict that the patient will die within a few days or weeks because of a fatal pathology), withholding or removing artificial sustenance can be morally justified.

Catholic Declaration on Life and Death

of

(Name)_____________________________________

This Declaration on Life and Death, made while I am of sound mind, is intended to convey my desire that my dying not be artificially prolonged under the circumstances set forth below.

Because of my Catholic belief in the dignity of the human person and my eternal destiny with God, I ask my family, physicians, lawyer, pastor, and friends to fully inform me of my condition and prognosis, if I should become irreversibly and terminally ill, so that I can prepare myself spiritually for death.

I am executing this Declaration in order to make known my decisions concerning medical treatment that might unnecessarily prolong the dying process beyond the limits dictated by reason and good judgment.

I do therefore declare that if at any time I am mentally or physically unable to make my own health care decisions and unlikely to regain such capacity and:

[initial below the one(s) you want to apply]

(initial)
________    I have a terminal condition from which I will inevitably die with or without treatment;

________    I have an end-stage condition (an irreversible and progressive condition caused by an illness or injury which has reached its final stages, and for which, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, further treatment would be medically ineffective);

________  I am in a persistent vegetative state (a permanent and irreversible condition in which the patient is totally unaware and totally unable to communicate);

and if my attending or treating physician and another consulting physician have determined that I have one of the conditions I have initialed above and there is no reasonable medical expectation of my recovery from such condition, then I request and direct:  1) that my pain be alleviated; 2) that no excessively burdensome nor disproportionate means be used to prolong my life; and 3) that nothing should be done with the intention of causing my death.

I believe nutrition and hydration are generally beneficial, whether being administered orally or with assistance.  Therefore, they are not to be withheld or withdrawn from me unless there is clear evidence, in the judgment of my physicians and my surrogate (if I have designated a surrogate), that they would cause me harm, be disproportionate, or be excessively burdensome.

I understand the full import of this Declaration, and I am emotionally and mentally competent to make this Declaration.  It is my intention that this Declaration be honored by my family and physician(s) as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and to accept the consequences of such refusal.

Additional Instructions (Optional):

 

 


I ask my family, friends and the Catholic community to join me in prayer as I prepare for death.  Finally, I seek prayers after my death, that I may enjoy eternal life.

Signed this ______ day of __________________ , 20 ___ .

________________________________ (Signature)     ________________________________ (Address)

The declarant is personally known to me, and I believe him/her to be of sound mind. (The witnesses cannot be the health care surrogate; only one witness can be a spouse or blood relative of the signer.)

________________________________ (Witness)       ________________________________ (Witness)

________________________________ (Address)      ________________________________ (Address)

________________________________ (Phone)      ________________________________ (Phone)

Designation of Health Care Surrogate

of

___________________________________________________ (Name)

Should I become comatose, incompetent or otherwise mentally or physically incapable of communication, I designate the following as my surrogate, to make health care decisions for me, including decisions to apply for public benefits, and authorize my admission or transfer to a health care facility.

_________________________________________ (Name)

_________________________________________ (Address)

_________________________________________

_________________________________________ (Phone)

If that person is unwilling or unable to act, then as my alternate surrogate:

_________________________________________ (Name)

_________________________________________ (Address)

_________________________________________

_________________________________________ (Phone)

(Additional Directions)





Signed this ______ day of _________________ , 20 _____ .

_________________________________________ (Signature)

_________________________________________ (Address)

_________________________________________

The declarant is personally known to me and I believe him/her to be of sound mind.  (The witnesses cannot be the health care surrogate; only one witness can be a spouse or relative of the signer.)

_______________________________ (Witness)

_______________________________ (Witness)

________________________________ (Address) ________________________________ (Address)

________________________________ (Phone)    ________________________________ (Phone)

Florida Catholic Conference
Catholic Declaration on Life and Death - Advance Directive
(Health Surrogate Designation/Living Will)

 Florida Catholic Conference 201 W Park Ave
Tallahassee, FL  32301-7760 Telephone: (850) 222-3803 ∑ Fax: (850) 681-9548 ∑ Website: http://www.flacathconf.org

In April 1989, the Catholic Bishops of Florida issued a statement on Life, Death and the Care of Dying Patients.  Portions of that statement appear below:

 . . . Our Judeo-Christian heritage holds that life is the gift of a loving God, and that each human being is made in the image and likeness of God.  As Christians we also celebrate the fact that we have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and are called to share eternal life.  We see life as a sacred trust over which we can claim stewardship, but not absolute dominion.

Therefore the Church condemns all direct attacks on life at any of its stages, including murder, euthanasia and willful suicide. . . .

These prohibitions against murder, euthanasia, suicide and assisted suicide are based on the inherent dignity and fundamental value of each human being, and thus cannot be rejected on grounds of political pluralism or religious freedom.

Prolonged illness and the agony it sometimes brings cry out for the compassion and support of the entire community. The story of Jesus tells us that suffering need not be useless, but can become meaningful and redemptive through our response as we care for the sick and especially for those who are terminally ill. Illness and intense suffering do not justify the deliberate taking of human life, but rather call for a profound recognition of and respect for the dignity of the patient. Such dignity is not lost through illness because it resides in our relationship to God. Consequently the deliberate taking of life, even with the intention of ending suffering, is not permissible, nor is it a response worthy of a faithful steward. Medicine that is administered to suppress pain is permissible, even though it may have the side effect of hastening death, so long as the intention is to ease the pain.

Faithful stewardship over life requires us to preserve and promote it, to take care of our own health and to seek necessary medical care from others. This does not require that every possible remedy be used in every circumstance . .

In 1980, the Vatican Declaration on Euthanasia stated:

In the past, moralists replied that one is never obliged to use "extraordinary" means.  This reply, which as a principle still holds good, is perhaps less clear today, by reason of the imprecision of the term and the rapid progress made in the treatment of sickness.  Thus some people prefer to speak of "proportionate" and "disproportionate" means.  In any case, it will be possible to make a correct judgment as to the means by studying the type of treatment to be used, its degree of complexity or risk, its cost and the possibilities of using it, and comparing these elements with the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources.

The application of this principle becomes difficult in many cases and should be made by the patient in consultation with his or her family, physician, and priest or minister, whenever that is possible . . .

A treatment is judged excessively burdensome if it is too painful, too damaging to the patient's bodily self and functioning, too psychologically repugnant to the patient, too suppressive of the patient's mental life, or prohibitive in cost. Moral certainty of excessive burdensomeness is required to justify withdrawal of artificial hydration and nutrition.

There are certain particular cautions that should be taken in executing a living will.  First, the document should clearly distinguish between a terminal condition in which death is imminent, and other conditions in which one could live a long time with easily provided medical care.  Second, one should never ask for or demand euthanasia, mercy killing or the withholding of "ordinary means" of sustaining life. This is not only wrong for the signer of the document, but it also does a serious injustice to physicians, family and medical personnel to whom such immoral demands are made.  Third, if there is any possibility that the signer may become pregnant, then certainly every measure should be called for to preserve the life of the unborn child.

Whenever a person executes such a document, he or she has to confront the realities of life and of death. It is a time when the family, especially a spouse, should be consulted and decisions are best made together. A person's physician and sometimes an attorney should be consulted. One need not shy away from executing a living will . . .

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has a 35-page 2007 Pastoral Letter entitled, Comfort and Consolation: Care of the Sick and Dying including a 4-page health directive which can be purchased for $4.75 at www.mdcathcon.org

Bereavement

Words for a Catholic Wake

Wellington Mara, New York Giants Owner, RIP

 

 

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