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1795 Oct. 17
Penalver y Cardenas, Luis Bishop

Procedures concerning the fulfillment of the physicians and surgeons of their duties as to the sick.

1795 Oct. 14

Penalver y Cardenas, Luis Bishop
(New Orleans)

1) The Bishop notifies:
a) That examining the parochial books, upon the occasion of the holy visit of his diocese, he notified sorrowfully the great number of adults that die without the sacraments of Penance, Eucharist, and Extreme Unction.
b) That that is due to the non-observance of the physicians and surgeons of the canonical orders of the fourth Council of Lateran under Pope Innocent III, of the holy Bull issued by Pius V whose beginning is "Super Gregem Dominicum" and of the instruction given by the Roman Council under the pontificate of Benedict XIII in 1725.
c) That all of which orders them not only to call the attention of those they cure to prepare themselves to eternal life through the holy sacraments, btu also that they must refrain from continuing to help the sick if at the end of the third day of illness they have not been administered.
d) That all those doctors who do not proceed so will be punished with a major excommunication.
2) therefore the Bishop decrees that in order that all those who live amidst vice and lincentiousness may be saved by an efficient confession of their sins, this decree is to be made known to every physician and surgeon, thus reminding them of their responsibility and the strict account they must give on Judgement Day to Our Lord for the least failure in the fulfillment of their duties.
3) That in the case of a known and proven neglect to carry out such orders, they will be punished properly for their disobedience. Signed by the Bishop of Louisiana and witnessed by Dr. Joseph Maria de rivas as secretary.
--To this is added a note by Santiago Saldivar, (Notary Public) certifying that on Oct. 15, 1795, at New Orleans, he notified the following doctors: Jose Monteguin, Estevan Pelgim, Roberto Dow, Joaguin Ablanedo,Jose Lavie, Mr. Fortain, and Crusel de St. Martial of the above decree. That on Oct. 16, 1795 he notified Luis Guiovelnia of the above decree. That on Oct. 17, 1795 he notified Santiago Leduc of the above decree. IV-5-d D.S. 3pp. 4to. (Spanish)

The bishop brought up a good point. What are our obligations toward the preparations for the death of someone we know who is gravely ill? Do we advise them to make a good confessioin? extreme unction? Do we facilitate their going to confession? What kind of a preparation are making for ourselves?
In the 1790s the bishop of what covered a large area of what is now the USA had something to say regarding healthcare and the spiritual needs of teh people. It continues today;
The head of a Vatican delegation to the World Health Assembly on Wednesday called for universal health care coverage and an “integral” approach to health care that responds to a person’s spiritual needs.