Bioethical Principles of Medical Practice
Since there is no incompatibility between science and religion, it is possible to provide
the highest standards of medical care without compromising Catholic principles.
Life of every individual is created in the image and likeness of God and is therefore
sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death.
All persons are entitled to a dignified death in God’s own time, but directly killing
patients or assisting in their suicide is abhorrent regardless of poor quality of life or
The duty to preserve life does not involve an obligation to prolong the dying process by
A competent patient is entitled to decline extraordinary therapeutic measures whose
burdens exceed their benefits.
The patient’s autonomy does not supersede the conscience of the physician. Therefore,
the physician must be free to refuse to participate in immoral procedures, and free to
refuse to refer to other providers who might be willing to perform such procedures.
Abortion is an unspeakable crime and no Catholic physician should cooperate formally or
materially in its performance.
The life of an individual is a great good which is a good “of” the person and not just a
good “for” the person. Life is not merely instrumental to other goals – it is an intrinsic
Food and drink are modalities of ordinary care and not a treatment of a disease.
Discontinuing nutrition and hydration for a patient who is not imminently dying
violates in its intention the distinction between ‘causing death’ and ‘allowing death’.
There should be no invidious discrimination in the delivery of medical care based on
social or economic factors. An operation that is indicated for the intelligent child of
wealthy parents is also indicated for the retarded child of impoverished parents.
The unitive and procreative ends of marriage may not be artificially separated. Any
measure whose directly intended purpose is to sterilize the patient temporarily or
permanently is morally unacceptable.
The family as a natural institution is divinely inspired. The family is the essential
building block from which society is constructed.
The economic and social policies of the state should be ordered to the protection and
strengthening of families.
A family is a group related by birth, marriage or adoption. Any attempt to elevate
extramarital or homosexual cohabitation to the status of committed heterosexual
marriage is contrary to the best interests of the family and society.
It is appropriate for individuals and families to espouse a value system and to promote
that system both in private and in their community activities.
The value of any individual life is not diminished by physical or mental handicap,
economic circumstances or state of dependency based on age.
The economy of the United States should be ordered so as to provide equality of
opportunity regardless of race, religion or national origin. Although individual
differences may prevent equality of outcome, all individuals should be free to pursue
their maximum potential in a just society.
The state exists for the individual and not the individual for the state. Medical decisions
should be made in the best interests of the individual patient rather than the interest of
relatives or the society at large.
In an affluent society, rationing of limited medical resources or triage among individual
patients should be carried out in accordance with the principles of distributive justice.