Maryland Bishops Issue Pastoral Letter, Comfort and Consolation: Care of the Sick and Dying

June 06, 2007

The Catholic bishops who serve Maryland today issued a new pastoral letter to support and provide guidance for those facing a serious illness or death. This letter is the first they have issued on this topic since 1993.

Comfort and Consolation: Care of the Sick and Dying aims at helping Catholics think through the often difficult questions that arise in times of grave illness and impending death. The letter was released today at a meeting of the Maryland Catholic Conference Governing and Administrative Boards at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore.

“We seek to provide clear, helpful and pastorally sensitive information to individuals and families who are making end-of-life decisions, as well as the health care and spiritual advisors who counsel them,” said Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl. This letter provides the underlying theology as well as practical information to help our parishioners and their health-care delegates make decisions in accord with their Catholic faith.”

Developed in light of Catholic teachings and in accord with Maryland law on advance directives, Comfort and Consolation includes a practical four-page form that Catholics can use to tell health care providers how they wish to direct their care.

The Catholic Declaration on Health Care Decision Making covers spiritual support, medical care and treatment, nutrition and hydration, pain relieving medication, imminent death from terminal illness, and pregnancy. It also provides an appointment form for a health care agent.

The 48-page booklet with the advance directive can be purchased for $6.00 (including postage/handling). Bulk-order prices are available. For more information, call 301-261-1979 or go to

The Maryland Catholic Conference represents the bishops of Maryland in advancing the mutual public-policy and pastoral interests of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
[email protected]