Thursday, 29 November 2007

British Catholic Hospitals Take Moral Stand

From the other side of the pond:

London, Nov 28, 2007 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- A Catholic hospital favored by British celebrities has barred its doctors from making abortion referrals or providing contraceptives, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The board of the private St. John and St. Elizabeth Hospital voted to implement a new code of ethics advocated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster.

In a letter to the hospital earlier this year, the cardinal said: "There must be clarity that the hospital, being a Catholic hospital with a distinct vision of what is truly in the interests of human persons, cannot offer its patients, non-Catholic or Catholic, the whole range of services routinely accepted by many in modern secular society as being in a patient's best interest."

Of course taking a righteous stand in the secular world usually results in various intimidations and threats.

Hospital insiders claim staff who opposed the code may resign. The hospital could face financial troubles if it must abandon plans to lease part of its site to National Health Service physicians, who are obligated by contract to offer contraceptive services.

Monday, 26 November 2007

On Human Life

In flipping through this blog I notice that there is nothing from Archbishop Chaput. Here's a wonderful pastoral letter he wrote on Humanae vitae some years ago. Thank God for the Archbishop--his faithfulness has been a real encouragement. Here's a snippet:
Sooner or later, every pastor counsels someone struggling with an addiction. Usually the problem is alcohol or drugs. And usually the scenario is the same. The addict will acknowledge the problem but claim to be powerless against it. Or, alternately, the addict will deny having any problem at all, even if the addiction is destroying his or her health and wrecking job and family. No matter how much sense the pastor makes; no matter how true and persuasive his arguments; and no matter how life-threatening the situation, the addict simply cannot understand -- or cannot act on -- the counsel. The addiction, like a thick pane of glass, divides the addict from anything or anyone that might help.

One way to understand the history of Humanae Vitae is to examine the past three decades through this metaphor of addiction. I believe the developed world finds this encyclical so hard to accept not because of any defect in Paul VI's reasoning, but because of the addictions and contradictions it has inflicted upon itself, exactly as the Holy Father warned.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Profile of the Catholic Teacher of Medicine

by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan

President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care MinistryReally [an excerpt--for the full article see]

Consequently, the physician should realize that health is complexive and bodily health should not be talked about as something radically different from the complete health that we call eternal health or salvation. The physician's ministry is therefore an ecclesiastic ministry which is directed toward the salvation of man from his body, but which involves other aspects.

We thus describe health as a dynamic tension toward physical, mental, social and spiritual harmony and not just the absence of disease, which prepares men to carry out the mission with which God has entrusted them, in accordance with the stage of life at which they are.
The physician's mission is therefore to ensure that this dynamic tension toward complete harmony exists, as required at each stage of the life of this specific man who is their patient, so that they can carry out the mission with which God has entrusted them. Thus, the contradiction of reducing the medical function to the single physical and chemical aspect of the disease. This function is complete and moreover cannot be static, but rather should be inserted within the dynamism of the patients who tend toward their own harmony.

In this context, death is not a frustration for the physician, but rather a triumph, as they have accompanied their patient in such a way that they have been able to use their talents to the full at each stage of their life. When it has reached its end, the medical function ends, not with a cry of impotence, but rather with the satisfaction of a mission fulfilled, both by the patient and by the physician.

Thus, the physician truly is with Christ and their profession is identified in this communion with Christ, and then the physician joins together with our Father God like a son with his father, and their professional love becomes the action of the Love of God in himself, which is the Holy Spirit. A Christian physician is therefore one who is always guided by the Holy Spirit. From the Holy Spirit and with the Holy Spirit is all the sympathy that must exist between the physician and the patient, all the due humanization of medicine and all the demand for updating and lifelong learning, as the Love of the Holy Spirit makes the physician an essentially open person for the rest, as they are obliged to do so before God because of their profession of Faith represented by their medical profession.

[Many thanks to Rich for starting this blog. As a Catholic family physician it's great to have such a forum. I am posting this excerpt from an article I ran across recently. Cardinal Barragan's comments are very challenging and inspiring. He reminds me that we can only pursue this vocation, and vocation it is, with Christ. Would that I were more consistent and faithful in walking "with Him" into the exam room and the hospital bedside! I would welcome your comments/feedback.]


Welcome to our newest Catholic Physician blogger, John. We look forward to your posts! John, if you have a website or blog, let me know and we can add it to the Blogroll.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Saturday, 17 November 2007

MD's Poorly Trained in God Therapy


According to the UPI:

Almost half of the pediatric physicians surveyed at 13 elite U.S. hospitals see themselves as very or moderately spiritual or religious.

Researchers at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and the University at Buffalo conclude these doctors are open to connecting with patients and their families but lack the professional training on how to do so.

The survey of 74 pediatric hematologists and oncologists at "honor roll hospitals" ranked by U.S. News & World Report found 47.3 percent described themselves as very or moderately spiritual and only 13.5 said they were not at all spiritual. However, only 40 percent thought their spiritual or religious beliefs had any influence on their interactions with families, patients and colleagues.

Thirty-one percent of those surveyed said they were raised Protestant; 25.7 percent Catholic; 25.7 Jewish, and 10.8 percent other.