November 18, 2009

Bishops Approve Items on Marriage, Reproductive Technologies, Medically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration

BALTIMORE — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a pastoral letter on marriage, a document on reproductive technologies, and a proposed revision to the directives that guide Catholic health care services on November 17, the second day of their 2009 Fall General Assembly.

“Marriage: Life and Love in the Divine Plan,” the foundational document of the U.S. bishops’ pastoral initiative on marriage, passed with 180 in favor, 45 opposed and three bishops abstaining. The final document can be found online at:

A document on reproductive technologies, “Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology,” which addresses Catholic teaching on a range of infertility treatments, passed with 220 in favor, 4 opposed and 3 abstaining. The document looked at morally problematic procedures including in vitro fertilization, embryo adoption, sperm and egg donation and surrogacy and recommended therapeutic means that help a couple conceive through sexual intercourse rather than replacing the act itself.

The bishops also approved revision to the directive dealing with medically assisted nutrition and hydration of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. The revised directive, which passed with 219 in favor, four opposed and 1 abstaining, takes into account elaborations on Catholic teaching by Pope John Paul II and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome predated by the current directives. It states more strongly the need to provide food and water even to patients in a persistent vegetative state.

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