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Part Three


Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, danger­

ous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be le­

gitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not

will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The de­

cisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not,

by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and

legitimate interests must always be respected.


Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a

sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to al­

leviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days,

can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as

either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable. Pal­

liative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be




Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has

given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life.

We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor

and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the

life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.


Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human

being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to

the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it

unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other

human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide

is contrary to love for the living God.


If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an ex­

ample, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scan­

dal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear

of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of

the one committing suicide.


We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons

who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God

can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church

prays for persons who have taken their own lives.