Palliative Care

Consistent with Catholic Moral Tradition

"Palliative care is an expression of the truly human attitude of taking care of one another, especially of those who suffer. It is a testimony that the human person is always precious, even if marked by illness and old age."
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants in the Plenary of the Pontifical Academy for Life, March 5, 2015

 

"Particularly in the stages of illness when proportionate and effective treatment is no longer possible, while it is necessary to avoid every kind of persistent or aggressive treatment, methods of "palliative care" are required. As the encyclical Evangelium Vitae affirms, they must "seek to make suffering more bearable in the final stages of illness and to ensure that the patient is supported and accompanied in his or her ordeal" (n. 65).

In fact, palliative care aims, especially in the case of patients with terminal diseases, at alleviating a vast gamut of symptoms of physical, psychological and mental suffering; hence, it requires the intervention of a team of specialists with medical, psychological and religious qualifications who will work together to support the patient in critical stages."
Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the 19th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, November 12,  2004

 

"There is a need to promote policies which create conditions where human beings can bear even incurable illnesses and death in a dignified manner. Here it is necessary to stress once again the need for more palliative care centers which provide integral care, offering the sick the human assistance and spiritual accompaniment they need. This is a right belonging to every human being, one which we must all be committed to defend.
Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for the 15th World Day of the Sick, February 11, 2007

 

Whoever has a sense of human dignity knows instead that they must be respected and supported while they face the difficulties and sufferings linked with their health conditions. Toward this end, today one takes recourse more and more to the use of palliative care, which is able to soothe pain that comes from the illness and to help infirm persons to get through it with dignity. Nevertheless, together with the indispensable palliative care clinics, it is necessary to offer concrete gestures of love, of nearness and Christian solidarity to the sick…."
Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI on the Occasion of His Visit to the Hospice Foundation of Rome, Dec. 13, 2009

 

"And even if we know that we cannot always guarantee healing or a cure, we can and must always care for the living, without ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their death. This approach is reflected in palliative care, which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome — pain and loneliness."
Message of the Holy Father to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the occasion of the European Regional Meeting of the "World Medical Association" on "end of life" issues, November 7, 2017

 

With its emphasis on compassionate care and treatment palliative care is fully consistent with the Catholic moral tradition. Popes from John Paul II to Francis have called out the importance of palliative care in addressing the suffering of the seriously ill.