Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

Pope John Paul II on Nutrition and Hydration: A Change of Catholic Teaching?

Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

Pope John Paul II on Nutrition and Hydration: A Change of Catholic Teaching?

Article excerpt

Peter J. Cataldo, Pope John Paul II on Nutrition and Hydration: A Change of Catholic Teaching? 4 NAT'L CATH. BIOETHICS Q. 513 (2004).

The recent allocution by Pope John Paul II titled "Life-Sustaining Treatment and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas" has many in the Catholic health-care ministry, in Catholic bioethics, and outside the church asking if the pope has in some way changed or modified Catholic moral teaching and tradition on the issue of the use of nutrition and hydration for the preservation of life. The purpose of this article is to argue that the pope's allocution does nothing of the sort, and that what the Holy Father has to say about the use of tube-feeding is a recapitulation of the Catholic moral tradition.

There is a long moral tradition in the Roman Catholic Church that underlies each of the major components of the pope's text, and this article attempts to correlate the tradition with the pope's statements in three areas. First, the article begins by examining the nature of the duty to preserve life according to the Catholic moral tradition. …

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