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Catholic Care During Serious Illness and End-of-Life

"To contemplate the living experience of Christ’s suffering is to proclaim to men and women of today a hope that imparts meaning to the time of sickness and death. From this hope springs the love that overcomes the temptation to despair." (Samaritanus bonus, II.)

Letter "Samaritanus bonus" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the care of persons in the critical and terminal phases of life. 


Samaritanus bonus Resources from the USCCB

This compendium contains summaries of each section of Samaritanus bonus and was prepared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities to serve as a resource on and introduction to the letter. It can be used on its own or in conjunction with the study guide. 

This study guide is designed to be used in group settings to discuss and reflect on Samaritanus bonus. It can be used in conjunction with either the “Samaritanus bonus: A Compendium” or with the full document. This study guide provides Scripture passages, prayers, and discussion questions to help participants reflect more deeply on the letter and its central themes and teachings.

This four-page document offers a brief overview of key points from Samaritanus bonus with a specific focus on what it says about palliative care and hospice.

Catholic Moral Teaching


Several Considerations are provided as starting points for understanding and preparing for our earthly passing in a way that respects God's gift of human life.

Polls indicate the public is receptive to the general concept of assisted suicide. However, when people understand the associated dangers, they are less likely to support the practice. Learn compelling reasons you can share for opposing assisted suicide. 

When loved ones approach life's end, we may not know how to support them. Ten suggestions anchored in unconditional respect for human life help readers know how to provide authentically compassionate care.

Rosa* knew from experience the difficulties and expenses of watching a loved one die. She was totally devoted to her husband as he suffered and died from cancer eight years earlier. The idea of high medical bills, “tubes” and pain upset her, and even though she had not viewed her husband as a burden, she feared being one to her family.

More states are attempting to legalize doctor-assisted suicide, inaccurately claiming it's just another option for end-of-life care. Foundational differences between the two are discussed, including how the legalization of assisted suicide undermines quality care.

Embracing our Dying: A Project of the California Catholic Conference

This is a pastoral guide to help navigate end of life decisions. 

Caring for the Whole Person Ministry

Caring for the Whole Person Ministry is a collaborative project of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops and the Alliance of Catholic Health Care. 

This ministry is aimed at creating an environment in our parishes, communities and health care systems in which all persons are loved, wanted, and worthy and will be prepared and supported in health and serious illness through the end of life.

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The Caring for the Whole Person Parish Ministry is not meant to replace current ministries of the parish that relate to whole person care (physical, emotional, and spiritual) but rather support these ministries and fill in the gap where is needed. 

Care Ministers receive a five module training that covers: 

- Catholic Moral Teaching

- Introduction to Palliative and Hospice Care

- How to support parishioners and their families towards the end of life

- Communication basics for ministers / volunteers

- Advance Care Planning (Advance Care Directives, POLST, and Ethical Wills)

- Caregiving support

- Grief support

- Implementing a successful Caring for the Whole Person Ministry

If you interested in building a ministry like this in your parish please send an email to:


Palliative Care

The objective of palliative care is to alleviate suffering in the final stages of illness and at the same time to ensure the patient appropriate human accompaniment (cf. Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, n. 65).

Caregiver Resources

Support yourself, supporting patients, and grief support.

Hospice Care

Ensuring the best care at the very end of life.

Advance Care Planning

Find information on advance care directives, POLST Form and Decision Aids to help you be informed. 

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