Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has issued new advance medical directives to help Catholics better understand the Church’s teaching on end-of-life issues and to provide guidance to caregivers.

Dr. Frank Agnone, a Catholic internal medicine physician, has stood many times at the bedside of patients facing the end of their lives. He said the advance directives issued by the Phoenix Diocese are based on the magisterial teaching of the Church and will be a big help to the faithful.

“None of us is equipped to put something this profound and this insightful together about human nature and natural law as God would have us live it out in His plan for creation, redemption and our salvation,” Dr. Agnone said, “but the Magisterium of our Church has and it makes so much sense.”

Dr. Agnone said the time during which patients and their families face the end of life is sacred and shouldn’t be rushed.

“We want to create the most sacred environment in which to finish the journey,” Dr. Agnone said. “We don’t prolong death but we respect that there are still some final chapters, some final moments of this life that can be carefully observed.”

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Bishop Olmsted: “…In this case, the baby was healthy and there were no problems with the pregnancy; rather, the mother had a disease that needed to be treated…

But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.”

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Bishop Olmsted ‘gravely concerned’ about abortion at Arizona Catholic hospital

Bishop Olmsted issued a Friday statement in response to what the Diocese of Phoenix called hospital officials’ acknowledgement “that an unborn child was killed” through a direct abortion.

Saying he was “gravely concerned” by the fact that the abortion was performed, the bishop said he was further concerned by the hospital’s claim that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition.

“An unborn child is not a disease,” he insisted. While medical professionals should try to save a pregnant mother’s life, “the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child.”

“The end does not justify the means,” he insisted.

Bishop Olmsted explained that every Catholic institution is obliged to defend human life “at all its stages,” and that Catholic individuals also have this obligation.

“If a Catholic formally cooperates in the procurement of an abortion, they are automatically excommunicated by that action,” the bishop continued. “The Catholic Church will continue to defend life and proclaim the evil of abortion without compromise, and must act to correct even her own members if they fail in this duty.”

“We always must remember that when a difficult medical situation involves a pregnant woman, there are two patients in need of treatment and care; not merely one. The unborn child’s life is just as sacred as the mother’s life, and neither life can be preferred over the other.”

“The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot be permitted in any institution that claims to be authentically Catholic.”

The bishop cited Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which recognizes direct abortion as “a grave moral disorder.”

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