Lord, teach us to pray:
(To be read by the Leader)
“God created humanity in His image and likeness, in His divine image He created him; male and female He created them….God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good, (Gen. 1, 27, 31)”
Brothers, last month we looked at the potential consequences for an already legal assisted suicide and the inevitable next step euthanasia. Literally a slippery slope that nothing good can come from. In many ways it will become a matter of what group or class or particular illness warrants being out out of their misery and the extension of this is that it is not even them who will be making the decisions. Yes, we do have a moral and ethical obligation to ensure that a dying person is ensured good quality end of life care, with appropriate medical, social, emotional, spiritual and religious support that will ensure a death with dignity and peace. This month we will look at how much treatment is enough and when is it too much?
The principle to be used when exploring treatment options from a Catholic perspective is this. For a person who is competent and in care and for one who is not competent, where we may be called into the proxy decision making process. “We are to seek measures that offer a reasonable hope of benefit and that can be obtained and used without excessive pain, excessive expense or other serious inconvenience.” There must be a reasonable hope of benefit for a treatment to be considered. If you are a person receiving care or are making decisions for someone who has entrusted you with their care the following is very important. “Persons receiving care are not obliged to seek treatment when it is of no benefit, or when burdens resulting from treatment are clearly disproportionate to the benefits hoped for or obtained. Similarly, there is no obligation to provide or to continue providing a treatment whose burdens are disproportionate to the expected or obtained benefits. This would amount to overtreatment-an unacceptable option.” So, common sense needs to be part of the equation.
If the pain caused or the expense incurred in the treatment of a terminally ill cancer patient will only increase their life span by a very short period of time, while at the same time causing tremendous discomfort and pain, it is reasonable that one would discontinue treatment and focus on the comfort, dignity of end of life care that could be provided. In other words brothers, treatment at all costs and all situations is not the answer. The hoped for outcome of the treatment has to make sense for the afflicted individual and for those providing the treatment. In some cases it makes much more sense
to acknowledge that our loved ones are going to die and to make them as comfortable as possible during their final days or weeks. What is a good rule of thumb in these difficult situations; make your decisions out of love for the other. If we do this, we will always have the best interest of our loved ones as our motivation, because as we know, love is about the other.
(To be read by the Leader)
One of the questions that may be in your mind when dealing with difficult end of life decisions is this; “Is there a real difference between euthanasia and the withdrawing or withholding of burdensome treatment?” Yes, absolutely. When extraordinary or excessive treatment is withdrawn, the intent is to allow our loved ones to die peacefully and naturally. Euthanasia is expressly for the purpose of causing death. Our loved one does not die naturally but before their time. There is a great difference between allowing someone to die and killing them. Our intentions (our intent) are a key element when it comes to distinguishing between end of life decisions and euthanasia. “Distinctions based on intent are important, and in fact form the basis of our criminal law. While factually the distinction may, at times, be difficult to draw, legally it is clear.”(Justice Sopinka ruling on the Sue Rodrigues case in 1993). If our intent is based on love and guided by God’s natural law, we will not go wrong. God gave us our lives out of His love for us. He will decide when our lives will end in order for us to be with him forever in the heavenly kingdom. Next month, advance directives, living wills and power of attorney. (COLF Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide; Urgent Questions.)
“God created humanity in His image and likeness, in His divine image He created him; Male and female He created them….God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good, (Gen. 1, 27, 31)”
(The Leader now invites the members to spend a few moments in silent reflection, as the above text is not meant to be a ready-made answer but a starter for personal reflection on the theme.)
(The leader now invites the members to share with their Brother Knights any relevant thoughts that came to them during the meditation period.)
(Recited by all)
Let us pray:
“Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may always conform our will to yours and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”