Vatican letter highlights 'remaining' with the dying

Dr David Kirchhoffer (The Catholic Leader)

A Queensland-based bioethicist says one idea that stands out in a new Vatican document on end-of-life care and euthanasia is the idea of “remaining” with those who are dying. Source: The Catholic Leader.

Australian Catholic University Queensland Bioethics Centre director David Kirchhoffer has analysed Samaritanus Bonus (The Good Samaritan), the latest letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published on September 22.

Dr Kirchhoffer said when the letter talked about Jesus at his death and resurrection, it raised the idea of Mary and John standing at the Cross with Him.

He said the text revisited the idea of “remaining” with the dying person again and again.

“Christ is aware of the painful shock of his Mother and his disciples who ‘remain’ under the Cross and who, though ‘remaining’, appear impotent and resigned, and yet provide the affective intimacy that allows the God made man to live through hours that seem meaningless,” the letter said.

“Then there is the Cross: an instrument of torture and execution reserved only for the lowest, that symbolically looks just like those afflictions that nail us to a bed, that portend only death, and that render meaningless time and its flow.

“Still, those who ‘remain’ near the sick not only betoken but also embody affections, connections, along with a profound readiness to love.

“In all this, the suffering person can discern the human gaze that lends meaning to the time of illness.”

Dr Kirchhoffer said the emphasis on the word “remaining” came from an idea that “what we really need is to remain with people and be with people in their suffering because it’s in the remaining that we’re able to really give expression to that person’s humanity”.


Bioethicist unpacks Samaritanus Bonus and idea of ‘remaining’ with the dying (By Joe Higgins, The Catholic Leader

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