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'Great misunderstanding' seen on church's teachings on end of life

There is "great misunderstanding" among Catholics and others about the church's teachings on whether and when life-sustaining medical treatment can be withdrawn when death is near, according to a leading Catholic bioethicist.

Marie T. Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy and a staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said the Philadelphia-based center conducts about 2,000 consultations a year with "families in distress" who want to talk with an ethicist "about the church's teaching in light of their (family) situation."

Ethicists criticize treatment of brain-dead patients

The cases of two young women -- a California teen and a pregnant Texas mother -- have generated sympathy for their families, but also have left some doctors and bioethicists upset about their treatment.

Many doctors are questioning continued medical procedures on a 13-year-old girl declared brain-dead nearly a month ago, calling interventions to provide nutrition to a dead body wrong and unethical.

'Citizen-scholar' and former Ambassador to Vatican Thomas Melady dies

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Thomas P. Melady, who served in several diplomatic posts and continued to play a role as "citizen-scholar" long past the age when most people would have retired, died Monday. He was 86.

Melady died at his Washington home of a brain tumor, which doctors only recently diagnosed.

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April 11-24, 2014

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