PCS 168-169: Care of a Dying Child

The Church doesn’t provide particular rites for a child who is dying, but it concludes this introduction to pastoral care of the dying with seven sections of notes, the first two of which follow:

168. In its ministry to the dying the Church must also respond to the difficult circumstances of a dying child. Although no specific rites appear in part II for the care of a dying child, these notes are provided to help bring into focus various aspects of this ministry.


169. When parents learn that their child is dying, they are often bewildered and hurt. In their love for their son or daughter, they may be beset by temptations and doubts and find themselves asking: Why is God taking this child from us? How have we sinned or failed that God would punish us in this way? Why is this innocent child being hurt?


Under these trying circumstances, much of the Church’s ministry will be directed to the parents and family. While pain and suffering in an innocent child are difficult for others to bear, the Church helps parents and family to accept what God has allowed to happen. It should be understood by all beforehand that this process of acceptance will probably extend beyond the death of the child. The concern of the Christian community should continue as long as necessary.


Concern for the child must be equal to that for the family. Those who deal with dying children observe that their faith matures rapidly. Though young children often seem to accept death more easily than adults, they will often experience a surprisingly mature anguish because of the pain which they see in their families.

Commentary: this horrific scenario requires particular care by the pastoral ministry of a parish. Attention to parents, family, and child are all vital.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Pastoral Care of the Sick, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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