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Pope Francis and the end-of-life: Time for serious reflection

Published:December 02, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2017.11.015
      On November 16, 2017 Pope Francis intervened at the European regional meeting of World Medical Association by sending a message about the complex subject of “end of life” [

      Messaggio del Santo Padre Francesco ai partecipanti al meeting regionale europeo della “World Medical Association” sulle questioni del “fine-vita”. Available on: http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/it/messages/pont-messages/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20171107_messaggio-monspaglia.html

      ]. Already in 1957, Pope Pius XII, addressing to intensive care specialists, affirmed that “there is not obligation to have recourse in all circumstances to every possible remedy and that, in some specific cases it is permissible to refrain from their use” [
      • Pope Pius X.I.I.
      An answer to a question about “reanimation”.
      ]. Pope Francis states that “it is morally licit to decide not to adopt therapeutic measures, or to discontinue them, when their use does not meet that ethical and humanistic standard that would later be calleddue proportion in the use of remedies’” [

      Messaggio del Santo Padre Francesco ai partecipanti al meeting regionale europeo della “World Medical Association” sulle questioni del “fine-vita”. Available on: http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/it/messages/pont-messages/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20171107_messaggio-monspaglia.html

      ]. Referring to the Declaration on euthanasia of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, elaborated in 1980 [
      • Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
      Declaration on euthanasia, 5 May 1980, IV.
      ], he said that the therapeutic decision has to consider “the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources” [

      Messaggio del Santo Padre Francesco ai partecipanti al meeting regionale europeo della “World Medical Association” sulle questioni del “fine-vita”. Available on: http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/it/messages/pont-messages/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20171107_messaggio-monspaglia.html

      ]. Based on this premise, Pope Francis states that “it thus makes possible a decision that is morally qualified as withdrawal ofoverzealous treatment’”. Moreover, he adds that “greater wisdom is called for today, because of the temptation to insist on treatments that have powerful effects on the body, yet at times do not serve the integral good of the person” [

      Messaggio del Santo Padre Francesco ai partecipanti al meeting regionale europeo della “World Medical Association” sulle questioni del “fine-vita”. Available on: http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/it/messages/pont-messages/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20171107_messaggio-monspaglia.html

      ].

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      References

      1. Messaggio del Santo Padre Francesco ai partecipanti al meeting regionale europeo della “World Medical Association” sulle questioni del “fine-vita”. Available on: http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/it/messages/pont-messages/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20171107_messaggio-monspaglia.html

        • Pope Pius X.I.I.
        An answer to a question about “reanimation”.
        Acta Apostol Sedis. 1957; 49: 1027-1033
        • Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
        Declaration on euthanasia, 5 May 1980, IV.
        Acta Apostol Sedis. 1980; LXXII: 542-552
        • Mailankody S.
        • Prasad V.
        Overall survivor in cancer drug trials as a new surrogate end-point for overall survivor in the real world.
        JAMA Oncol. 2017; 3: 889-890