Ethical and Religious Directives

Ethical and Religious Directives

The Bishops of the United States have provided guidance for Catholic health care institutions in ethical decision making.


Ethical and Religious Directives - The Ethical and Religious Directives (ERD) are guidance provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to Catholic health ministries throughout the nation. “The Directives have been refined through an extensive process of consultation with bishops, theologians, sponsors, administrators, physicians, and other health care providers,” according to the introduction. “While providing standards and guidance, the Directives do not cover in detail all of the complex issues that confront Catholic health care today.” In making any decision about the end-of-life the ERDs should be combined with prayerful discernment, careful information gathering and thorough consultation with spiritual and medical experts.

“While every person is obliged to use ordinary means to preserve his or her health, no person should be obliged to submit to a health care procedure that the person has judged, with a free and informed conscience, not to provide reasonable hope of benefit without imposing excessive risks and burdens on the patient or excessive expense to family or community.” #32

“A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life. Proportionate means are those that in the judgment of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit and do not entail an excessive burden or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.” #56

Download Full ERDs - PDF