Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Services

“The purpose of these Ethical and Religious Directives then is twofold: first, to reaffirm the ethical standards of behavior in health care that flow from the Church’s teaching about the dignity of the human person; second, to provide authoritative guidance on certain moral issues that face Catholic health care today.”

The Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Services, in its fifth edition, is created by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as a template for applying Catholic teaching to our relationships in the realm of health care. It provides guidance for the Catholic community of providers and patients as it strives to reflect Christ’s mission to serve the life and dignity of all.

Click here to go to the Ethical and Religious Directives document.

Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Services

“The purpose of these Ethical and Religious Directives then is twofold: first, to reaffirm the ethical standards of behavior in health care that flow from the Church’s teaching about the dignity of the human person; second, to provide authoritative guidance on certain moral issues that face Catholic health care today.”

The Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Services, in its fifth edition, is created by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as a template for applying Catholic teaching to our relationships in the realm of health care. It provides guidance for the Catholic community of providers and patients as it strives to reflect Christ’s mission to serve the life and dignity of all.

Click here to go to the Ethical and Religious Directives document.

Compassionate, faith-filled care at the end of life

By Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines

Pope Francis often refers to travelling the journey with the vulnerable, especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. But what does it concretely look like to accompany those who suffer, or, as Pope Francis phrased it, engage in the “mission of affectionately and tenderly caring for the sick and dying?“ More personally, how do we make faith-filled and clinically informed decisions about our own care when we end up facing a difficult health condition?

To begin, we must prayerfully consider the options that are available when we or those whom we love receive difficult news. Most commonly, health care professionals use terms like palliative care, comfort measures, or hospice. Each of these alternatives is in accord with Catholic teaching and can bring peace to both the patient and family, but understanding the terms is a first critical step.

Palliative care supports people who are seriously ill, with the goal of improving the quality of life for both the patient and the family. A palliative care team normally includes doctors, nurses and support staff who work to relieve patients of pain and who address the stresses associated with health issues. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of an illness and allows for fullness of life even in the midst of illness.

A second option, hospice care, provides comfort and support to patients with advanced illness as well as to their families. Hospice care is specifically for patients with a terminal condition who will live six months or less if the illness or condition runs its normal course. While receiving hospice care, patients can live at home, at a home-like hospice residence, or in a nursing home.

Comfort care is a term you most frequently hear in a hospital setting. It is often used when all options for cure have been exhausted and the goal of all who are involved is to keep the patient comfortable. Though no aggressive treatments are continued, comfort care does notmean “giving up.” Instead, the health care team provides relief on all levels – physical, spiritual, and emotional – as one nears the natural end of life.

The methods of care discussed above are all fully in line with the moral teachings of the Church. As Catholics, we should do all that we can to familiarize ourselves with the Church’s guidance on these matters, so that we can be prepared to navigate the morally complex situations in serious illness as well as those that arise at the end of life. One benefit of seeking treatment from Catholic healthcare facilities is that the physicians, nurses, and chaplains employed there are committed to offering care and counsel according to the approved ethical directives of the Church.

Healing the sick was an integral part of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus wept when he was confronted with the death of a friend (John 11:32-37), and he had compassion for the sick who were brought to him (Matt. 14:14). Care for those very seriously ill and who are dying is one of the ways that we follow the example of our Lord in living out our mission as the body of Christ.

Today, certain social currents are making it increasingly challenging to provide end-of-life care that respects the dignity of each person. We can offer powerful testimony to the Gospel by defending the dignity of human life from conception until natural death, and by making faithful decisions about end-of-care life for ourselves and our loved ones.

There are numerous resources available to help us better inform our consciences on these matters. During this Year of Mercy, let us redouble our efforts to know and live the truth in this area of our lives, so that others might see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

May 2, 2016

Recommended Resources:

Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services (USCCB):

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Ethical-Religious-Directives-Catholic-Health-Care-Services-fifth-edition-2009.pdf

Evangelium Vitae, by Pope John Paul II:

http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html

Article prepared in consultation with Des Moines Diocesan Supportive Care Iowa Team

Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Services

“The purpose of these Ethical and Religious Directives then is twofold: first, to reaffirm the ethical standards of behavior in health care that flow from the Church’s teaching about the dignity of the human person; second, to provide authoritative guidance on certain moral issues that face Catholic health care today.”

The Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Services, in its fifth edition, is created by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as a template for applying Catholic teaching to our relationships in the realm of health care. It provides guidance for the Catholic community of providers and patients as it strives to reflect Christ’s mission to serve the life and dignity of all.

Click here to go to the Ethical and Religious Directives document.

Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Services

“The purpose of these Ethical and Religious Directives then is twofold: first, to reaffirm the ethical standards of behavior in health care that flow from the Church’s teaching about the dignity of the human person; second, to provide authoritative guidance on certain moral issues that face Catholic health care today.”

The Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Services, in its fifth edition, is created by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as a template for applying Catholic teaching to our relationships in the realm of health care. It provides guidance for the Catholic community of providers and patients as it strives to reflect Christ’s mission to serve the life and dignity of all.

Click here to go to the Ethical and Religious Directives document.

No Child Left Behind

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, was passed in 1965 as the education component of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” It was designed to address the achievement gap between children from low-income families and their higher-income peers and was the most expansive federal education bill ever passed. The bill created a special source of funding, Title I, to deliver targeted categorical—as opposed to general-federal aid to programs specifically designed to help disadvantaged children. ESEA advanced the principle that students in need, regardless of whether they attend a public or private school, are entitled to an equitable share of services and benefits.

The ESEA preceded the official establishment of the Department of Education under President Carter in 1980 and has expanded dramatically through regular reauthorizations in the 50 years since its creation. President Bush initiated a bi-partisan effort in 2000 to update the ESEA, creating the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, or NCLB. The NCLB expired and was due for reauthorization in 2007 but Congress has been unable to agree on terms and has chosen to default to annual funding but not reauthorization.

Currently, the stalemate remains in place. In February, a House committee passed the HR5, the “Student Success Act,” which would amend NCLB. The bill would spend $23 billion annually, roughly what is currently spent under NCLB. Due to internal debates among Republicans over the interpretation of certain provisions of the bill and a veto threat from President Obama, the bill failed to reach the floor for debate. The Senate continues a bi-partisan effort to address differences and create a proposal that may improve the chances reauthorization may eventually be successful.

The USCCB supports the efforts of legislators to address the concerns of Catholic educators in the reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB. In addition to adequate religious liberty protections, a top concern is insuring nonpublic school students receive the equitable share of program services and benefits to which they are entitled and Congress has traditionally intended. Over the years the principle has been eroded by some public school districts that choose to retain funds generated by private school students without meaningful consultation with those private schools. The USCCB believes HR5 addresses those concerns but passage of a final reauthorization is required to insure they are resolved.

The U.S. House passed on July 8, 2015, a reauthorization of ESEA. HR 5, the “Student Success Act,” contains provisions which support nonpublic school students getting their fair share of federal education dollars. The Student Success Act, HR 5. It passed the House yesterday 218-213. At press time the Senate is working on its own version of the bill.

Payday lending

One of the Conference’s legislative priorities is safe and fair lending practices. As Pope Francis states, “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies.” The payday loan or “delayed deposit service” business has gained attention in the past years as an industry that exploits borrowers with deceptive marketing and draws them into a perpetuating cycle of debt.

Payday loans are typically small-dollar loans, which in Iowa are limited to $500, made with a simple, fast application process and without credit checks or verifying the borrower’s ability to repay the loan amount. The collateral for the loan is the borrower’s next paycheck, commonly provided by giving the lender electronic access to their checking account or writing a personal check for deposit on the next pay day. The repayment includes the interest charge, which in Iowa is limited to $15 for the first $100 of each loan, and $10 for each additional $100. The loan term is limited to 31 days and roll-overs, where borrowers pay a fee or the interest on a loan to extend the due date, are prohibited, but lenders are allowed to make a new loan the same day a borrower repays a previous loan.

Unfortunately, the straightforward provisions that regulate the delayed deposit services business in Iowa often obscure the economic reality of the cycle of debt that can trap thousands of borrowers across the state every year. According to the Iowa Division of Banking, in spite of the advertised headline rate of interest, the annualized percentage rate (APR) on the average payday loan was 268 percent in 2013, meaning a interest charge of $268 for a loan of $100. The threat of a perpetuating debt cycle becomes even more clear in view of the fact that 80 percent of the payday loans in the state are renewed or followed by another loan within 2 weeks and 53 percent of payday borrowers take out 12 or more loans a year.  The opportunity for convenient access to individual loans is compounded by the expansion of the payday industry in Iowa, which had 209 payday loan storefronts that made over 950,000 loans in 2012.

The profile of the payday borrower is commonly a person who is using the payday system to pay for regular, ongoing living expenses like rent, credit cards and utilities, and the consequences of the high-expense debt spiral can quickly extend to their families as diminished household budgets and interventions by extended family to pay off accumulated debt. For many families already at risk of financial crisis, the payday cycle dramatically increases the likelihood the risk becomes reality.