Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services

The sixth edition of ethical and religious directives for Catholic healthcare services was created under the patronage of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and sought to guide Catholic doctors and nurses in their work. The document provides insights about social and spiritual responsibility, professional-patient relationships, issues in care for the newborns and the sick, as well as collaborative arrangements with other healthcare providers.

In the first chapter of the document, the authors talk about social responsibility and its connection to Biblical scriptures. It covers the vision and mission of the organization and claims that healthcare services exist with the purpose of providing treatment to those who need it the most (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [USCCB], 2018). The adoption of the directives is mandatory for all Catholic healthcare services. They are expected to take care of local communities and further the goals of healing and service.

The second chapter revolves around spiritual responsibility, which establishes Catholic hospitals as places of physical and spiritual healing. It highlights the proper procedures for the spiritual guidance of patients and employees alike. Some of the examples include the proper application of Baptism, Viaticum, and the Holy Communion (USCCB, 2018).

The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters cover over 40 directives that guide Catholic health specialists in treating newborns and the elderly, as well as cover the relationship with patients and other healthcare providers. The directives are largely similar to those of the American Nursing Association (ANA), with an emphasis on spiritual guidance and following the example of Jesus Christ. Additional focus is placed on respecting patients’ rights and beliefs while guiding them towards better health and salvation (USCCB, 2018).


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2018). Ethical and religious directives for catholic health care services (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.