These pages are intended to provide resources and guidance for those making health care decisions at or near the end of life, for oneself or for another person.
Periodically over the years, I have offered a seminar on End of Life Matters at various locations in the Diocese of Lafayette. A summary of that seminar, as well as additional resources can be found here.
Click here for the summary.
A handout was distributed at the seminar:
Download the handout here.
And the large print version here.
Advanced Directive (Living Will)
This document is the one I recommend for use today. It is consistent with Catholic moral teaching, and expresses the wishes of most people. There are two parts – the ‘Advanced Directive’ itself (top) and the ‘Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care’ (bottom). The first part, the Advanced Directive itself, is drawn from a 2012 statement from the Louisiana Bishops, “Approaching Death: The Moral Choices“. The second part is a standard form for granting to one person a durable power of attorney for health care.
One may compete either one or the other, or both. It is highly recommended that one complete the at least the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (different from a legal ‘power of attorney’) as this allows you to identify one specific person who will be entrusted with making health care decisions for you, should you be incapable of doing so yourself. Note: You do not need an attorney for this, it need not be notarized, and should be copied and made available to family and physician(s) (rather than placed in a safe deposit box). Witnesses may be anyone who knows you, except heirs who might benefit from your death. Download the document.
Seminar Audio Recording
This is an audio only recording of the seminar that was presented on Tuesday, February 18th at St. Patrick Church in Lafayette. The entire talk is about an hour and a half long. (Right-click to download: Part 1 — Part 2)
Select Documents & Statements
- Title: The Final Journey:(Catholic Bishops of Louisiana, May 2013)
- Title: Approaching Death: The Moral Choices(Catholic Bishops of Louisiana: 1995, Rev. 2006)
- Title: A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decisions: An Explanation of Church Teaching on Advance Directives, Euthanasia, and Physician Assisted Suicide (National Catholics Bioethics Center: 2010)
- Title: Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (USCCB: 2009) (especially Part Five)
- Title: Life Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas (Pope John Paul II: March 2004)
- Title: Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to The Elderly (1999)
- Title: Declaration on Euthanasia (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1980)
- Title: Responses to Certain Questions of the USCCB Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration (Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith: 2007) and a helpful Commentary on the Response
- Title: Nutrition and Hydration: Moral and Pastoral Reflections (NCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities: 1992)
- Title: LaPost Home
Funerals and Cremation
In response to questions, we offer the link below to information which our U.S. Bishops have provided regarding funeral planning, and cremation in particular.
In particular, the U.S. Bishops have stated:
The cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they come. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner in which they are carried, and the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition. The cremated remains should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains on the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires. (no. 417)