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Ethical and Religious Directives

The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, often called the ERDs, is a document that offers moral guidance and ethical direction on various aspects of health care delivery. Drawn from the Catholic Church's theological and moral teachings, they pertain to a variety of issues involving respect for the dignity of the human person.

The ERDs are divided into six parts, all of which can be found on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


pdf Download "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Sixth Edition" here.


Below is a brief description of each section:

Part One – The Social Responsibility of Catholic Healthcare Services addresses the issues of human dignity and the right to life, the biblical mandate to care for the poor, responsibility to the common good, responsible stewardship of human and material resources and the right to refrain from procedures opposed to human dignity.

Part Two – The Pastoral & Spiritual Responsibility of Catholic Healthcare Services addresses the need to provide care which embraces the physical, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions of human beings.

Part Three – Professional & Patient Relationship addresses the issues pertaining to these relationships, including mutual respect, trust, honesty, confidentiality and informed consent.

Part Four – Issues in Care for the Beginning of Life addresses the need to care for human life from conception until natural death, encompassing infertility interventions and care of women and the newly born both during and after pregnancy.

Part Five – Issues in Care for Seriously Ill and Dying addresses and defines compassionate response to the whole person, especially in his or her illness, suffering and death.

Part Six – Forming New Partnerships With Health Care Organizations and Providers addresses the importance of Catholic health care providers to maintain the integrity of their mission and ethical identity by following the principles of cooperation.