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Our Speaker's Bureau

One-day Workshop:
Catholic Teaching On Physician-assisted Suicide

This one-day workshop provides a commentary on physician-assisted suicide, one of the most explosive and potentially divisive social issues of our day. It will provide medical professionals who work in Catholic health care facilities with an understanding of Church teaching on this matter while affording them the opportunity to be kept abreast of fast-breaking developments in law and medicine
The Catechism of the Catholic Church on assisted suicide is concise and to the point: "Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law" [no. 2282]. According to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, an official document promulgated by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2001: 

The truth that life is a precious gift from God has profound implications for the question of stewardship over human life. We are not the owners of our lives, and hence do not have absolute power over life. We have a duty to preserve our life, and to use it for the glory of God; but the duty to preserve life is not absolute, for we may reject life-prolonging procedures that are insufficiently beneficial or excessively burdensome. Suicide and euthanasia are never morally acceptable options.


While learning about developments in law, medicine, and morality, workshop participants will be able to discuss issues and voice their concerns on a matter of ultimate import for who we are as a human community.
The workshop is intended to be of benefit for all who serve Catholic facilities, both medical and support staff. In addition, attendance and participation should prove invaluable to those who serve on ethics committees, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The workshop will have a special appeal to Members of Ethics Committees as well as Sponsors, CEOs, Medical Directors, VPs for Nursing, Directors of Social Work, Mission Directors, and Directors of Pastoral Care. As at all the Pope John Center Workshops, physicians and nurses are especially welcome.
There will be 4 sessions at the Workshop. In the first three, specialists in the fields of law, medicine, and Church teaching will inform participants of recent developments in these areas vis-à-vis assisted suicide. The fourth will feature a panel discussion with the three presenters plus personnel from the local facility responding to questions from the participants. A variety of teaching aids will be used. Participants will be provided with the complete text of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services

  • The Medical Community and Assisted Suicide - Statements of the AMA and other medical organizations are examined as is the medical aspect of the "Dutch experiment' with assisted suicide. Recent medical developments in pain management are presented. The Hospice movement and its aims are also detailed.
  • The Legal Aspects of Assisted Suicide - Can there be a legal right to die? An analysis of the most recent court decisions regarding assisted suicide in general, physician-assisted suicide in particular. The role of the Constitution is also discussed. Why has the law been powerless to stop someone like, for example, Kevorkian?
  • Catholic Teaching on Assisted Suicide - An analysis of sacred scripture and recent Catholic teachings on the matter of assisted suicide is presented. Texts utilized include the 1980 Declaration on Euthanasia, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the 2001 edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, and Pope John Paul II's 1995 Encyclical, The Gospel of Life.
  • Panel Discussion on Assisted Suicide - The three presenters along with representatives from the local facility field questions on regarding assisted suicide from the participants at the Workshop.