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IMPENDING DEATH

Certainty of an early death due to illness or fatal disability. The moral responsibility of knowing one's own impending death is the duty of preparing oneself spiritually for entrance into eternity. On the part of the physician, he or she is obliged in charity to warn the patient or near relatives of the danger of death, so that the dying person may arrange his or her spiritual and temporal affairs. This duty would not be binding of the doctor could not give the warning without grave inconvenience. With regard to newborn babies, the doctor should see to it that they are baptized if they are in immediate danger of death, unless it is foreseen that such action would prove gravely detrimental to the doctor or to the Church.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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