Bishops Recommend Health Care Directive


Designed to Prevent Another Schiavo Case

DENVER, Colorado, SEPT. 3, 2007 ( Colorado bishops are urging Catholics to be informed about end-of-life decisions and to take measures to ensure that they will receive care according to the Church’s moral principles.

A new online Catholic health care directive includes a letter from Archbishop Charles Chaput and a guideline of the Church’s principles. It also has an explanatory note on health care directives, and a format for so-called medical durable power of attorney for health care decisions.

Archbishop Chaput wrote : "The Catholic bishops of Colorado have prepared a Catholic health care directive and accompanying reflections to help clarify Catholic teaching on the reality of suffering and confusion that can accompany the process of dying and the respect and dignity that every human life is entitled to.

"Modern medicine has made tremendous progress in allowing us to live longer and healthier lives.

"But with the progression of modern medicine also comes many challenges about what means we will use to sustain our lives or the lives of those we love. These challenges and decisions concerning end-of-life care will be faced by many families in our dioceses."


Archbishop Chaput confirmed that though it is not a legal requirement to designate a health care agent to act in times of serious illness or imminent death, he said that the bishops "strongly urge you to complete the necessary forms to ensure that your medical treatment decisions are known."

"The Church has always remained steadfast in her foundational teaching that every human life is a gift from God and made in his image," the archbishop continued. "This gift is the foundation for all his other gifts. Therefore, the Church offers moral principles to guide our decision-making process during times of serious illness and imminent death."

John Gleason wrote in the Denver Catholic Register that "the directive and its accompanying form — the medical durable power of attorney for health care decisions — are designed to prevent situations such as the one that happened to Terry Schiavo, a Florida woman who suffered brain damage and became dependent on a feeding tube."

"A court ruled that Schiavo would not want the life-preserving measures to continue and ordered the feeding tube removed," he explained. "Still, the battle stretched on for seven years before the order was carried out. Schiavo died in 2005 nearly two weeks after the feeding tube was removed. Had she had an advance directive that spelled out her wishes, years of legal wrangling and anguish to the family could have been avoided." -