I OK’d giving morphine for pain to dying friend. Her death would take weeks or months without it. She would be short of breath, swollen. The key to me is “would”, She died within a few hours. I confessed this and the priest insisted it was not sinful. I am pretty sure I’m not scrupulous. So, I’m forgiven. He also told me I didn’t need to fast before communion. I’m 65 and healthy. My question is can I live by his his advice licitly. That is hastening death by sedation and/or ignoring fast? If I was seriously sinful should I mention it at another confession?.
As long as you did not give morphine with the deliberate intent to hasten death, it’s not sinful. The fact that she died within hours was an unintended consequence. It was not your intention.
As far as the fasting before Communion, I’m not sure.
Do not let your heart be troubled. The priest was right on both counts. As for the morphine, the previous poster properly responded. As for the communion fast:
The current rules were introduced by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964, and are found in Canon 919 of the Code of Canon Law:
*]A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine.
*]A priest who celebrates the Most Holy Eucharist two or three times on the same day can take something before the second or third celebration even if there is less than one hour between them.
*]The elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour.
[/LIST]Regarding point 3, “elderly” is defined as 60 years of age or older. In addition, the Congregation of the Sacraments issued a document, Immensae caritatis, on January 29, 1973, that clarifies the terms of the fast before Communion for “the infirm, and those who care for them”.
So the priest wasn’t wrong?
It sounds like the priest was right, or at least had a reasonable answer. I think RitasKid could licitly go by his advice. Confession is definitely taken care of, unless other stuff was going on that she didn’t mention to the priest.
If RitasKid is still troubled about it, she might want to schedule a talk with the priest (or another priest) so that she can hash it out with him more fully. Sometimes it’s hard to get peace of mind. If the priest then thought there was more to confess, he’d be right there available for Confession, too.
Whether or not you would be guilty of murder would depend on:
- Were you trying to manage the pain of a dying person even at the risk of hastening the dying process? or
- Did you deliberately administer a lethal overdose of pain medication?
Here is a quote from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website regarding the encyclical of John Paul II "Death with Dignity"usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/end-of-life/euthanasia/john-paul-ii-dying-with-dignity.cfm
Ethical questions can arise regarding the use of pain medication. Pain should be managed in such a way as to allow patients to prepare for death while fully conscious. The dying should be kept as free of pain as possible. Some wish to blur the distinction between the use of medication to manage pain even at the risk of hastening the dying process, and the deliberate administration of a lethal overdose of pain medication. Those who claim the latter is mercy killing fail to recognize that true “compassion” leads to sharing another’s pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear.xii
The priest is correct for fasting. You don’t have to fast after certain age. I am pretty sure 65 qualifies. You can fast if you choose to.