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Catholic Bishops’ Offer Guidance on End of Life Decisions

21/07/2015 11:00 am

This year’s Day for Life – the Day in the Church’s year dedicated to praying for the protection of human life and raising awareness about its meaning and value at every stage and in every condition – will focus on Catholic teaching about appropriate treatment at the end of life.
 
Over 300,000 postcards will be distributed to parishioners in England and Wales this weekend offering guidance about end of life decisions.
 
The essential message for the Day is ‘How do we cherish life while we can and accept death when it comes?
 
The postcard focuses on the two thoughts which can help guide us all at the end of life:

“The first is that we love life. Every person is loved by God and every life is a precious gift never to be destroyed or neglected. It is wrong to hasten or bring about death. God will call us in his good time, and the time we have left for living and loving is always short.

The second is that we accept death. This means there is no obligation to pursue medical treatment when it no longer has any effect or, indeed, harms the patient, or where the risks or burdens of the treatment outweigh the likely benefits.”

Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and the lead Bishop for Day for Life, the Right Reverend John Sherrington says: “Catholics cherish and celebrate the gift of life but they are not vitalistic in saying that life must be preserved at all costs. Rather, judgements are to be made about types of treatment, taking into account the benefits and burdens of the treatment as well as the person’s total medical condition and well-being. This means there is no obligation to pursue medical treatment when it no longer has any effect or, indeed, harms the patient, or where the risks or burdens of the treatment outweigh the likely benefits. Sometimes difficult decisions need to be made and the views of family and experts are needed. But in such situations these two questions can guide us: “Is this decision loving life?” and “Is this decision accepting the inevitability of death? Please pray that we will always value the precious gift of life.”
 
Day for Life is celebrated yearly by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland and England and Wales. The Day is celebrated in England and Wales this Sunday (26 July) and in Ireland on 4 October 2015. It was celebrated in Scotland on 31 May 2015.

The proceeds of the Day for Life collection to be held in parishes in England and Wales on Sunday 26 July 2015 assist the work of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and other life-related activities supported by the Church. 

More Information

dayforlife.org
Official website for Day for life.

dayforlife.org/2015-message
2015 Day for Life message.