Catholic doctors must defend right to life

Catholic doctors have been told: they must speak up for the right to life.

When he met with a delegation of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC) earlier this week, Pope Francis reminded them the church is pro-life.

“Your qualification as Catholic physicians commits you to a permanent spiritual, moral and bioethical formation in order to implement the evangelical principles in medical practice.”

He said implementing these principles begins with the doctor-patient relationship and involves “the missionary activity carried out to improve the health condition of the populations on the fringes of the world.

“The Church is for life, and her concern is that nothing may be against life in the reality of a concrete existence, however weak or defenceless it may be, even if not developed or advanced,” he said.

He acknowledged following church teaching may cause doctors “difficulties and hardships.”

Nonetheless, he told them to remember to “affirm the centrality of the patient as a person and his dignity with his inalienable rights, primarily the right to life.

“The tendency to debase the sick man as a machine to be repaired, without respect for moral principles, and to exploit the weakest by discarding what does not correspond to the ideology of efficiency and profit must be resisted.”

He made it clear to the doctors not to accept a role where they were just “a simple executor of the will of the patient or the needs of the health system in which you work.”

They should resist what he described as the “technocratic cultural paradigm” that had taken hold of the profession.

Instead, they should seek to work with doctors from other faiths who share the Catholic belief in the dignity of human life.

“Be ministers, not only of care, but also of fraternal charity, transmitting to those you approach, along with the contribution of your knowledge, your wealth of humanity and evangelical compassion,” he said.

Francis’s meeting with the doctors was timed to precede this week’s Zagreb-based FIAMC 25th Congress entitled “Sanctity of Life and the Medical Profession, from Humanae Vitae to Laudato Si’.”


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