Roman Catholics at The End-of-Life: an Analysis of Religious Documents and their Context Since 1994
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Despite the current use of technology to control many aspects of life and death, the Catholic Church maintains that only God may regulate the initiation and termination of life. Science perfected a means of incurring a painless death, resulting in a growing acceptance of medical euthanasia. As the number of legislative bodies removing the ban on physician-assisted suicide increases, Catholic leaders continue to resist the promulgation of this societal trend. This thesis critically examines papal encyclicals, letters, medical conference proceedings, and Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) published since 1994 on end-of-life care, showing that life necessarily entails suffering, which is not a problem to be solved with euthanasia. The results of this analysis demonstrate that the Catholic Church believes medical practitioners have a continual responsibility to care for patients to the natural end of life, regardless of legislative and social pressure.