Understanding Contemporary Moral Issues from a Catholic Perspective ‘Withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment’.
“And the dust goes back to the earth as it was, and the spirit goes back to God who gave it”. (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
In order for me to comprehend and discuss the moral issue of withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment from a Catholic perspective, I needed to have an understanding of what Bioethics refers to. It is a shared reflective analysis and discussion of ethical issues in health care, health science, and health policies. It engages dialogue and thought from our society comprising of doctors, patients, scientists, politicians and the general public (What is Bioethics? 2014). Using Bioethics as a framework to discuss withdrawal of life, it helps us to realise the position the Catholic Church has adopted in its views and beliefs. .The Catholic Church wishes to trigger a deeper thinking regarding moral issues and offers practical help in moral decision making by encouraging us to think about the role of the Church in society from two distinct roles; that of Doctrinal and of Pastoral (Rev Dr. Joe Parkinson, personal communication, July 18, 2014). One of my duties as a teacher facilitating in a Catholic Education School is not only to identify what the Catholic Church doctrine upholds, but also to counsel and support those in need. The Catholic doctrinal view is that there needs to be a prohibition on euthanasia, because society may create a sub-class if we approve assisted death and what the Church offers is a development when bringing about a change of society’s mindset in which you offer palliative care and managed pain relief instead of looking at euthanasia as the only option (Dr. Joe Parkinson). The Church acknowledges that this is a challenge in an aging society, but we need to promote an environment that upholds the dignity of the sick, vulnerable and the aged. From a pastoral approach, the Catholic perspective is that decision making regarding values and morals is based on a process of identifying the options and choosing what is most important to us. The Catholic Church advocates discussion and examination of what is driving the decisions and what are the other values and factors at play. Saying this, the Catholic Church also realises that the choices are often not perfect and one very important point is to emphasise that the Church will never abandon someone based on differences of viewpoint and acknowledges that individuals may have come to a decision, knowing that is the best that they can do, having balanced the ethical and moral decisions in their conscience. The Catholic Church appreciates that as human beings we are not remote controlled Catholics. However, the Church also recognises it has to take a position regarding morality, a standpoint that asks us to recognise that we are responsible for our decisions and that they impact the bigger picture in regards to the community as a whole entity (Dr. Joe Parkinson), thus, reminding us that the Catholic Church teaches us to value life, promote and to protect life (Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, 1995). The Church also promotes prayer and counsel to assist individuals in the decision making process and urges individuals to examine whether they feel the outcomes are acceptable before God. Saying this, the Church also understands that we need to be true to ourselves. Whilst our ethics, our reasoned choices, may often be intuitive, they allow us to make choices that make us accountable as individuals. These ethical choices expresses our values and our actions as well as our intentions, it essentially defines our values. In the issue of withdrawing life-support, it is quite possible to go about getting the right thing, but going about it in the wrong way. Morals and ethics challenge the thought that if it does not break the law; than it is acceptable. However, some lawful acts are not morally right. From a Catholic teaching...
References: Assisted Suicide How the chattering classes have got it wrong. Christina Odone. 2010. Retrieved from http://www.bioethicsperth.org.au/Upload/39694762-Assisted-Suicide-How-the-chattering-classes-have-got-it-wrong.pdf
Catholic Health Australia
Image retrieved Aug 8, 2014 from Google images.
What is Bioethics? Michigan State University. Centre for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences. 2014 Retrieved from
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