Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

The Catholic Tradition: Steering Clear of Vitalism. (Letters)

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

The Catholic Tradition: Steering Clear of Vitalism. (Letters)

Article excerpt

To the Editor: "Catholic Teaching on Prolonging Life: Setting the Record Straight," by Michael Panicola (HCR, November-December 2001) offers a clear analysis of matters that often get muddled. It is still possible to find texts equating affirmation of the value and dignity of human life with the kind of "pro-life" activism on display in the Hugh Finn case. Michele Finn, a resident of Louisville, was defended by Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly. Kelly publicly stated that Michele Finn's decision to discontinue artificial nutrition and hydration was "within the church's realm of acceptable decisions." As Michele contended with family members and the Arlington Catholic Diocese, Kelly wrote her a letter assuring her of the support of her "Catholic family" in Louisville. John Collins Harvey, senior research scholar and professor emeritus of medicine at Georgetown University, testified on behalf of Michele Finn. Thus the Finn case itself testifies to the continuing vitality of a Catholic position on end of life decisionmaking that steers clear of vitalism.

 
Mary R. Anderlik 
Institute for Bioethics, Health 
Policy and Law, 
University of Louisville School of 
Medicine 

To the Editor: Reading "Catholic Teaching on Prolonging Life: Setting the Record Straight" serves as a masterful reminder of the extraordinary history of the Roman Catholic teaching on human stewardship over creation and the implications of that teaching regarding the use of resources at the end of life....

There is one issue in Catholic moral teaching that will benefit from illumination. That is the role of the patient as a moral decisionmaker in these choices. …

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