terminal illness

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Question from vincent on 5/28/2008:

My brother is suffering from cancer in the advanced stage. He is going through the treatment as per the doctor's advice.If God wills he may be healed. The question is, his wife has left him alone saying I have no money to spend on him. She is a working woman and has a child. Her another reasoning is that if she uses her money on him she will not have anything left for her, though the property she owns is a joint ownership of her and her husband. Are we catholics doing the right thing to allow a patient to die without giving the treatment he deserves even if he is suffering from a terminal illness?
Answer by Judie Brown on 5/28/2008:

Dear Vincent

Your question deserves to be answered logically and with charity. We Catholics are called to reflect the mercy of God in all that we do including affirming the lives of each of our loved ones. The fact that someone is suffering from a terminal illness should invite us to be even more loving toward that person, even if it means unselfishly providing for that person to the best of our ability.

As Pope John Paul II taught:

"The parable of the Good Samaritan belongs to the Gospel of suffering. For it indicates what the relationship of each of us must be towards our suffering neighbour. We are not allowed to "pass by on the other side" indifferently; we must "stop" beside him. Everyone who stops beside the suffering of another person, whatever form it may take, is a Good Samaritan. This stopping does not mean curiosity but availability. It is like the opening of a certain interior disposition of the heart, which also has an emotional expression of its own. The name "Good Samaritan" fits every individual who is sensitive to the sufferings of others, who "is moved" by the misfortune of another. If Christ, who knows the interior of man, emphasizes this compassion, this means that it is important for our whole attitude to others' suffering. Therefore one must cultivate this sensitivity of heart, which bears witness to compassion towards a suffering person. Some times this compassion remains the only or principal expression of our love for and solidarity with the sufferer.

"Nevertheless, the Good Samaritan of Christ's parable does not stop at sympathy and compassion alone. They become for him an incentive to actions aimed at bringing help to the injured man. In a word, then, a Good Samaritan is one who brings help in suffering, whatever its nature may be. Help which is, as far as possible, effective. He puts his whole heart into it, nor does he spare material means. We can say that he gives himself, his very "I", opening this "I" to the other person. Here we touch upon one of the key-points of all Christian anthropology. Man cannot "fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself"(92). A Good Samaritan is the person capable of exactly such a gift of self." (APOSTOLIC LETTER SALVIFICI DOLORIS)

Judie Brown

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