MCC’s booklets provide Catholic perspective on end-of-life decisions

| October 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

Joe Stanislav, CEO of Our Lady of Peace hospice and home health care in St. Paul, can vouch for the Minnesota Catholic Conference’s primers on health care directives and end-of-life care.

The two booklets are among items offered to people at the hospice.

Stanislav, a member of Transfiguration in Oakdale, said the primers cover ethical and moral considerations for end-of-life care in a clear and helpful manner. The health care directives booklet includes a form people can fill out that meets Minnesota law for such directives, including designating a health care agent and requesting spiritual and medical care that conform to Church teaching.

It’s important for people to receive that kind of guidance, Stanislav said.

“In this secular society, it’s too easy for people to support things like euthanasia,” he said. “Because we are Catholic, we would never support that.”

MCC’s “A Guide to End-of-Life Care Decisions: A Brief Ethical Primer on Medical Decisions Regarding Life-Sustaining Treatments in the Catholic Tradition,” notes among other issues that advances in medical technology create ethical challenges.

Such challenges include a strong push to allow people to end lives through euthanasia and assisted suicide, but also include an ability to sustain life that was not available to previous generations. That kind of technology can make it difficult to determine when death occurs, blurring the lines of ordinary care and extraordinary interventions that don’t offer a reasonable hope of benefit.

Understanding Catholic teaching on such challenges and consulting with experts, loved ones and others can help people navigate the difficult landscape, the MCC notes.

The Guide provides information from a Catholic perspective that can help people consider issues such as human dignity and the ministry and faith aspects of sickness and dying, including the toll they take on people physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. The booklet also seeks to dispel the notion that life must be prolonged at all costs.

“There is a time in each life when we exhaust all reasonable possibilities of forestalling death,” the Guide says. “The Catholic tradition does not require prolonging life in every possible way or at all costs. Such a position would be contrary to human dignity, moral intuition, and the will of God.”

The Guide is new this year as a supplement to the MCC’s “Health Care Directives: A Catholic Perspective,” which includes a Q-and-A approach to the subject. The previous edition of the health care directive booklet was published in 2011. Revised this year to be more user friendly, it remains substantively similar to the previous booklet.

Among questions it strives to answer are “Why should I have a health care directive?” as well as how to create a health care directive, who should be named as a health care agent and what to do with a directive once it is signed.

Both booklets offer suggestions for further reading and additional resources on end-of-life issues.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference produced the booklets with the help of various consultants and the MCC’s Life, Family and Healthcare Committee. Both were reviewed and approved by the Catholic bishops of Minnesota.

Parishes and organizations can use the booklets to help create presentations on the topics they address. Some organizations are open to sponsoring such presentations, including the Knights of Columbus, Catholic United Financial and Catholic Community Foundation.

Additional contact information for those groups and copies of both booklets, which can be ordered or downloaded, can be found at

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Category: Funeral & Hospice Planning