End-of-Life Care/Three Beliefs
None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live in the Lord, and if we die, we die in the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s
~ Romans 14:7-8
Life-sustaining treatment and care may be generally defined as any medical or surgical intervention or basic form of care without which a person cannot live. Stewardship of the gift of life includes the universal moral obligation to conserve human life in a way that corresponds appropriately to the condition of a person’s life—our own or anyone for whom we have responsibility. This means that life-sustaining treatment and care that has a reasonable hope of benefit and does not cause an excessive burden, is morally obligatory. Any life-sustaining treatment or care that does not have a reasonable hope of benefit or is excessively burdensome is morally optional. This principle from the Catholic moral tradition (the principle of ethically proportionate and disproportionate means) helps us to understand that the extremes of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide on the one hand, and over-zealous interventions on the other, are to be avoided.
Three Beliefs: A Catholic Guide on Durable Power of Attorney for Heath Care in New Hampshire
Three Beliefs is a document from the Diocese of Manchester that gives valuable assistance to Catholics and others on end-of-life issues. Three Beliefs explains Catholic teaching on life-sustaining treatment and care and includes the New Hampshire Advance Directive form modified in such a way to make it consistent with both Catholic teaching and New Hampshire law. Three Beliefs contains a helpful FAQ section and wallet cards that include important information for health care providers.
The New Hampshire Advance Directive form was revised by a law that became effective January 1, 2014. Three Beliefs has been updated to include a form that is consistent with Catholic teaching and the changes to the New Hampshire form. If you completed an advance directive before 2014 and your intentions for your end-of-life care have not changed, you do not need to complete a new form as long as your advance directive was valid when it was executed. For example, if you completed the October 2007 version of Three Beliefs and signed the document before two witnesses or a notary public or justice of the peace, you do not need to complete a new advance directive form.
Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) (ns. 63–67)
Catechism of the Catholic Church (ns. 2276–2279)
Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services
Vatican Declaration on Euthanasia
Vatican Statement on Medically Administered Nutrition and Hydration
Saint John Paul II on the Patient in the Persistent Vegetative State
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Resources on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care