Palliative care as the mutual dependence of love

Here is a short message of the Cardinal Secretary of State to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the occasion of the Congress on Palliative Care organized by the PAL (Rome, 28 February – 1 March 2018), 28.02.2018.

Palliative care, however, does not support this renunciation of the wisdom of finitude, and here is a further reason for the importance of these issues. In fact, they indicate a rediscovery of the deepest vocation of medicine, which consists first of all in caring: its task is to always care for, even if it is not always possible to heal. Certainly the medical enterprise is based on the untiring commitment to acquire new knowledge and to overcome an increasing number of diseases. But palliative care proves, within clinical practice, the awareness that the limit demands not only to be fought and moved, but also recognized and accepted. And this means not abandoning sick people, but rather being close to them and accompanying them in the difficult test that makes itself present at the end of life. When all the resources of “doing” seem to be exhausted, then the most important aspect emerges in human relations, which is that of “being”: being present, being close, being welcoming. This also involves sharing in the impotence of those who reach the extreme point of life. Then the meaning of the limit can change: it is no longer a place of separation and solitude, but rather an opportunity for meeting and communion. Death itself is introduced into a symbolic horizon within which it can appear not so much as the term against which life breaks and succumbs, but rather as the fulfilment of a freely received and lovingly shared existence."

Then, Cardinal Pietro Parolin continues: "Indeed, the logic of care recalls that dimension of the mutual dependence of love that emerges with particular emphasis in moments of sickness and suffering, especially at the end of life, but which in reality permeates all human relationships and indeed constitutes their most specific feature. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Rom 13: 8): thus the Apostle admonishes us and comforts us. It therefore seems reasonable to make a bridge between the care that has been received since the beginning of life and that has allowed it to unfold throughout the span of its development, and the care to be given responsibly to others, in the succession of generations so as to embrace the whole human family. In this way it is possible to ignite the spark that connects the experience of the loving sharing of human life, up to its mysterious end, with the evangelical proclamation that sees us all as children of the same Father and recognizes in each one His inviolable image. This precious bond presides over a dignity, human and theological, that does not cease to live, not even with the loss of health, one’s social role and control over one’s body. Here then, palliative care shows its value not only for medical practice – because, even when this latter is effective in healing at times spectacularly, do not forget this basic attitude that is at the root of every relationship of care – but also more generally, for all human coexistence."

At the end of his message Cardinal Pietro Parolin also point out to the phenomenon of pain relief. "A very topical issue in palliative care is that of pain relief. Pope Pius XII had clearly legitimized, by distinguishing it from euthanasia, the administration of analgesics to alleviate unbearable pain that is not otherwise treatable, even if, in the phase of imminent death, they may cause a shortening of life (cf Acta Apostolicae Sedis XLIX [1957 ], 129-147). Today, after many years of research, the shortening of life is no longer a frequent side effect, but the same question emerged with new drugs, which act on the state of consciousness and make different forms of sedation possible. The ethical criterion does not change, but the use of these procedures always requires careful discernment and great prudence. Indeed, they are very demanding for the sick, for the family, and for carers: with sedation, especially when protracted and deep, the relational and communicative dimension that we have seen is crucial in accompanying palliative care is cancelled. It is therefore always at least partially unsatisfactory, so it must be considered as an extreme remedy, after having carefully examined and clarified the indications. The complexity and delicacy of the subjects present in palliative care require continuous reflection and the spread of the practice to facilitate access: a task in which believers can find like-minded companions in many people of good will. And it is significant in this regard that representatives of different religions and different cultures are present at your meeting, in an effort to deepen shared commitment. In the training of healthcare workers, those with public responsibilities and in society as a whole it is important that these efforts be carried out together."

More at: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2018/02/28/180228a.html

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Bioethics and the Catholic moral tradition

If you are looking for the catholic approach in bioethics and also for a link to Catholic moral tradition I would highly recommend the book by Pádraig Corkery, head of the Department of Moral Theology and Dean of the Faculty of Theology in the Pontifical University, Maynooth. His excellent book titled as Bioethics and the Catholic moral tradition gives an ethical evaluation of some of the more controversial developments in medical practice over the past few decades. His book gives an ethical evaluation of some of the more controversial developments in medical practice over the past few decades, including assisted human reproduction, embryonic stem cell research, personal conscience and morality and the civil law from the perspective of the Catholic moral tradition.

More at: https://www.catholicireland.net/bioethics-and-the-catholic-moral-tradition/

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Declaring physician-assisted suicide a "right" is not true caring and not humane in the least.

It is always very sad when someone declare that "physician-assisted suicide is a "right" and not true caring and not humane in the least.  The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a  statement on the recent approval of Bill C-14 legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. It is worthy to read it and I personaly agree with their statement. Every human life, even fragile declare dignity and care!

"The recent approval of Bill C-14, which legalizes euthanasia and assisted suicide in our country, stands as an appalling landmark decision to the utter failure of government, and indeed all society, to care truly, authentically and humanely for the suffering and vulnerable in our midst.

We live in a country where the vast majority of the dying cannot access quality palliative or home care, where rates of suicide in many Indigenous communities are staggeringly high, and where it is suggested that the lives of vulnerable, chronically ill and disabled persons are not worth living. Paradoxically, and most unfortunately, our society has now enshrined in law that killing is a respectable way to end suffering. Our country's growing inability to recognize the sanctity of human life is staggering and deeply troubling.

No institution, person, ideology or legislation is entitled to threaten or undermine the sacredness of both the dignity of each individual person and the very gift of life itself. We are called, as a community of compassionate individuals, to respect and protect the continuum of life from conception to natural death, honouring a vision of the human person in his/her present earthly existence as well as life beyond the grave. Catholics and indeed all people of good will have a moral and societal obligation to protect the vulnerable, comfort the suffering, and accompany the dying. The Bishops of Canada hope and pray that with all our Catholic brothers and sisters and our fellow Canadians, each of us and our society may experience a greater conversion of heart so as to recognize the image of God so profoundly imprinted on every human life, whatever that person's state, level of comfort or degree of productivity and societal contribution.
The intentional taking of any human life – be it an elderly person, a child, a vulnerable adult, an embryo, a dying person – is truly a grave and morally unjustifiable act. Our society needs to reject all offenses against life itself: murder, genocide, suicide, abortion, euthanasia, and physician-assisted dying. The purposeful termination of human life via a direct intervention is not a humane action whatsoever. We ought to look instead to minimizing the pain and suffering of the dying and those who are tempted to end their lives, not eradicate their existence. Let us strive to help the sick and incapacitated find meaning in their lives, even and especially in the midst of their suffering. Let us comfort those facing terminal illness or chronic conditions through our genuine presence, human love and medical assistance. Let us, as a society and as individuals, choose to walk with them, in their suffering, not contribute to eliminating the gift of life.

Declaring physician-assisted suicide a "right" is not true caring and not humane in the least. It is ultimately a false act of mercy, a distortion of kindness to our fellow man/woman. The new legislation seems to insinuate that a human being, a person, ceases to be a person and loses his/her very dignity simply because of a loss or diminishment of a number of physical and mental capacities. It is untrue. What is true is that our own humanity is weakened when we fail to care for the weak and dying, and when we purposefully fall short of considering them, with all their ailments and limitations, as persons worthy of life. True human compassion invites us to share the other's pain, the other's journey – it is not meant to do away with the person. Physician-assisted suicide is an affront to what is most noble, most precious in the human endeavour and a grave injustice and violation of the dignity of every human person whose natural and inherent inclination is indeed the preservation of life. We ought to surround our sick and dying, our vulnerable and disabled, with love and attention, with care and true life-giving compassion. This is why palliative care continues to be undeniably the only moral, effective and much needed alternative, the only compassionate choice, now that our country has embarked upon this perilous road.

Saint Joseph, patron of Canada and patron of a good death, pray for us."

More at: http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/media-room/statements-a-letters/4523-statement-by-cccb-president-on-the-recent-approval-of-bill-c-14-legalizing-euthanasia-and-assisted-suicide
More about other similar statements: http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/media-room/euthanasia-and-assisted-suicide/4464-cccb-statements

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Article about the "Doping Athletes" by T. Pacholczyk

I recently found excellent article about "Doping Athletes" by T. Pacholczyk, The National Catholic Bioethics Center. Here is part of it: "The use of performance-enhancing drugs by professional athletes not only leads to serious challenges in maintaining a level playing field in competitive sports but also raises broader ethical issues and concerns.
Some of these concerns were highlighted in 2015 when the former world number one tennis star Maria Sharapova was banned from competitive play for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. The Court of Arbitration for Sport subsequently reduced her sentence to 15 months. Meldonium, an over-the-counter Latvian drug known to dilate blood vessels and increase the flow of blood, may contribute to improving an athlete’s physical endurance. Her case was made more complicated by her claim that she was taking the drug for health reasons, a claim viewed with skepticism among other athletes and ultimately rejected by the Independent Tribunal appointed by the ITF to review the case. Former British Olympic sprinter and world championship bronze medalist Craig Pickering described the real pressure that top athletes can face:
I would bet my life savings that Sharapova was taking this medication because of its purported performance enhancing effects… Athletes are always going to push the boundaries in order to have a chance at success. That is what happens when you introduce competition.
In competitive athletics, the supposition is that competitors are beginning on a par with each other, which means that no one has an “unfair” or “unjust” advantage over another going into the competition. At the starting line, they arrive as equals in the sense that they arrive with whatever they were endowed with at birth, and whatever they may have managed to become through practice, hard work, and discipline."

For more see at https://www.ncbcenter.org/files/9414/9728/1328/MSOB143_Doping_Athletes.pdf



RE: 'No solid evidence' for IVF add-on success

For those interested in IVF bussiness and ethics I would like to offer interested article titled: "No solid evidence' for IVF add-on success". BBC Panorama research suggests there is no hard evidence IVF add-ons increase pregnancy chances.

"Nearly all costly add-on treatments offered by UK fertility clinics to increase the chance of a birth through IVF are not supported by high-quality evidence proving that they work, a study has revealed.
The findings are the result of research commissioned by BBC Panorama and conducted by Oxford University's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, world experts in assessing medical studies.
On average, only one in four cycles of IVF (in vitro fertilisation) across all age groups results in a live birth.
Many clinics offer add-ons, treatments on top of standard IVF, in an attempt to boost the chances of having a baby.


The Oxford team spent a year searching for every claim made about each treatment available at UK clinics and researched more than 70 websites - identifying 27 treatments that are considered to be add-ons.
However, its research found that 26 of them were not backed up by good scientific evidence of success.
The treatments include genetic screening tests, additional drugs, blood tests to measure the immune system and special devices to house an embryo. They can cost from £100 up to £3,500 each on top of the costs of IVF".

For more: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38094618#share-tools


Art of Dying Well - Umění dobré smrti

For those interested in end-of-life issues but also for all of us:

The Art of Dying Well website was devised and commissioned by the Catholic Church of England and Wales.

The Catholic Church has an interest in helping those faced with the prospect of death and dying. We believe that death opens the way to new life. For us, in dying, we close our eyes for the last time here, in order to be able to really see for the first time there.

After centuries of ministering to the dying, the Catholic Church has a fund of experience to share in what was traditionally called the art of dying well, or in Latin, Ars Moriendi. We sense that this is good time to look afresh at that tradition.

After centuries of ministering to the dying, the Catholic Church has a fund of experience to share in what was traditionally called the art of dying well, or in Latin, Ars Moriendi. We sense that this is good time to look afresh at that tradition.

The underlying ethos of the art of dying well applies just as well to anyone of any, or no faith, undergoing the final journey. All of us will fall, all of us will need help, and all of us can use the experience we gain in helping people on the climb creatively for the good of others.

Dying well means different things to us all. Death is an individual experience, but a community of accompaniment on the journey can help us to prepare by bringing consolation and spiritual peace.

And more at:  http://www.artofdyingwell.org/

CZ translation: "Katoličtí biskupové Anglie a Walesu zpřístupnili na internetu nové stránky nadepsané „Umění dobré smrti“ (Art of Dying Well). Lze na nich najít řadu duchovních rad i článků z praktické oblasti péče o umírající, osobní svědectví i slova povzbuzení, pro ty, kdo ztratili své blízké. Zakládají se na zkušenosti nemocničních kaplanů, lékařů i dalších lidí, kteří měli možnost nahlédnout do této oblasti." (http://radiovaticana.cz/clanek_print.php4?id=24690)

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The Historic Christian Teaching Against Contraception: A Defense

I just find an interesting article titled The Historic Christian Teaching Against Contraception: A Defense
which I highly recomend for those interested in specific issue in sexual ethics.

"The Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception, common to all Christian denominations for 1900 years, is
not arbitrary. It reflects a moral truth. And the Catholic Church can never revise it. Forty-eight years ago last month, our story reached a dramatic climax. But it began in the dawn of Christianity, with a document called the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (or Didache). Written thirty to fifty years after Christ’s death, it gives the earliest evidence of a Christian condemnation of contraception. For the next 1900 years, it was the view of every Christian body—East and West, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox—that contraception by spouses was immoral. (Its use outside of marriage wasn’t much discussed since non-marital sex was deemed sinful anyway.) It was even denounced, vociferously, by Reformers such as Luther and Calvin. In 1930, but only then, a single Protestant denomination cracked open the door to spousal contraception—but only for serious reasons. Soon, however, that and almost every other denomination had flung it wide open.

And the Catholic Church held firm. As the sexual revolution spread and “population bomb” panic swept the West, there were rumors and fervent hopes that the Church would change. The birth control pill had just been invented, and some thought it different in kind from condoms and other barriers. Perhaps (they reasoned) it wasn’t really contraceptive. A commission established by Pope Paul VI to study the question tried to split the difference. Its 1966 report concluded that any effort to sterilize spouses’ sex acts would fall within the ancient teaching against contraception; but it urged abandoning that teaching....."

More at http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/08/17559/