eISSN: 2081-2833
ISSN: 2081-0016
Medycyna Paliatywna/Palliative Medicine
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vol. 11
Original paper

Patient’s right to pastoral care

Rafał Kubiak

Medycyna Paliatywna 2019; 11(1): 33–43
Online publish date: 2019/03/25
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Freedom of conscience and religion constitutes an important value, which is protected in Poland by both constitutional regulation and many acts of lower rank. It covers the possibility of accepting worldviews freely, including religious ones, and then externalising them, for example, through participation in ceremonies and rituals connected with a given cult. This entitlement is open to every human being, but it is particularly important for the sick. Due to their condition, they may have an increased need for spiritual feelings. However, in the case when patients are in stationary medical facilities, such as a hospital or hospice, the implementation of these needs may face natural obstacles. Therefore, the Polish legislator guaranteed such patients the right to pastoral care. The article presents a constitutional understanding of religious freedom and shows its international and Polish legal regulations. Subsequently, the right to pastoral care is presented. Its subjective and objective scope is discussed. In the further part of the study, the protection of the discussed powers is shown on the basis of specific factual states. In terms of civil law, the main focus is on two aspects: the possibility of placing religious emblems, especially the cross, in public spaces, including medical facilities, as well as the admissibility of giving the patient the Extreme Unction. The article is summed up with the consideration of criminal liability for religious discrimination and lack of religious denomination.

patient’s right, pastoral care, freedom of religion

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