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Ethical & Religious Directives

Promulgated by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERD) for Catholic Health Care Services serves as a normative guide for all Catholic-sponsored healthcare systems. The ERD provides Catholic healthcare systems with authoritative guidance and instruction on matters central to the Catholic healthcare ministry.

The ERD is made up of a preamble, introduction, and six parts, each with an important theological introduction, followed by numbered directives.

Some themes from the six parts include the following:

The Social Responsibility of Catholic Health Care Services
  • Human dignity and sacredness of human life
  • Rights of the human person, including right to adequate health care
  • Biblical mandate to care for the poor, including social advocacy
  • Advancing the common good and stewardship of resources
The Pastoral and Spiritual Responsibility of Catholic Health Care
  • Community of healing and compassion
  • Embracing physical, psychological, social and spiritual dimension of the human person
  • Spiritual care as encompassing a full range of spiritual services
The Professional-Patient Relationship
  • Interpersonal relationship requiring mutual respect, trust, honesty and confidentiality
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Participation in informed decision-making
Issues in Care for the Beginning of Life
  • Sanctity of human life from conception to natural death
  • Responsible parenthood
  • Care of women and children
Issues in Care for the Dying
  • Compassion and care for the dying
  • Pain management, spiritual care, respect and love
  • Christian meaning of life, suffering and death
Forming New Partnerships
  • Maintaining the integrity of our mission
  • Providing witness to religious and ethical commitments
  • Advancing care for the poor and responsible stewardship

Read the full text of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services