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Healing and the Church: Catholic Approaches to Medical Practice

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Presentation on theme: "Healing and the Church: Catholic Approaches to Medical Practice"— Presentation transcript:

1 Healing and the Church: Catholic Approaches to Medical Practice
Fr. Tom Knoblach Consultant for Healthcare Ethics, Diocese of St. Cloud

2 Quaestiones Disputatae A Small Sample
How should “mission” and “margin” be balanced? How should Catholic health care respond to victims of sexual assault? When may labor be induced? May tubal ligation be performed to prevent risks associated with a future pregnancy ?

3 5) How can we ensure that a patient’s preferences for end of life care are honored?
6) When is the provision of medically-assisted nutrition and hydration morally required? 7) When may implantable cardiac devices be disabled? 8) May a Catholic hospital partner with another provider that does elective sterilizations? Others ? …


5 “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” … “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

6 We begin with the Resurrection, because:
“The mystery of Christ casts light on every facet of Catholic health care: to see Christian love as the animating principle of health care; to see healing and compassion as a continuation of Christ’s mission; to see suffering as a participation in the redemptive power of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection; and to see death, transformed by the resurrection, as an opportunity for a final act of communion with Christ.” [ERD, General Introduction]

7 When is health care Catholic health care?
“When the bishop says it is” Can. 300 – No association shall assume the name “Catholic” without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority, in accord with the norm of can. 312. possible points of reference: visible symbols, structures, and presence commitment to ERD and other moral teachings option for the poor / social witness canonical structures and reserved powers

8 from Ex Corde Ecclesiae, n. 17:
animated by Christian inspiration manifests ongoing commitment to its proper mission in the world maintains fidelity to the Gospel as it comes through the Church provides visible service in witness to the transcendent

9 Goal: the practice of medicine in a genuinely Catholic way
animated by Christ’s teaching, a collaboration with the healing ministry of Christ, as a mission of the Church a holistic view of the person, body and soul, and made in the image of God a vocation to use one’s gifts wisely and generously for the common good as a witness to charity (“beyond the Hippocratic Oath”) upholding the inherent dignity of each human life, regardless of the circumstances of the person’s development or decline accepting the responsibilities and the limits of human capabilities to restore health or preserve life, rooted in the belief in eternal life

10 An open, honest, constructive, and routine relationship with the bishop(s) is essential and worth the time and effort it requires Governance structures where applicable Reporting relationships Organizations (CMA) at the non-institutional level Sense of personal ownership for the larger mission of the Church Who is the liaison?

11 An awareness of Catholic moral teaching as related to the practice of medicine is required
In general, natural law illumined by revelation, reflecting on the complex and composite nature of the human person and his/her capacities The “three fonts” of morality The role of conscience The centrality of prudence The connection of the virtues The personal pursuit of holiness (cf. Spe Salvi) Magisterial teaching on specific issues …

12 When ethical questions arise, what do I actually do?
Gather the relevant facts Refer to the ERD Refer to general principles of Catholic moral teaching Refer to Catholic commentators / “auctores probati” Refer to experience (individual and collective, institutional policy, consultation) Refer to secular standards of practice, legal factors, current trends, “general secular morality” for context and contrast

13 The reality: each of us forms our own personal ethical synthesis from various sources
Family system Educational experiences Religious tradition / beliefs Personal life experiences Listening to people we come to trust


15 For convenience, various principles develop
Principles are tools – templates developed from past experiences that serve as shorthand and “starting points” (points of reference) in deliberating about specific cases Not answers but help frame the right questions They are general rules that must be applied with prudence to particular situations

16 A few examples: “The Georgetown Mantra” – Beneficence, Non- maleficence, Autonomy, and Justice Double Effect (when an action has both good and bad effects) Totality (parts exist for the sake of the whole) Common Good (conditions necessary in the community for its members to thrive) Confidentiality Ordinary and Extraordinary Means Informed Consent Principles governing Cooperation (when I interact with someone doing things against my own moral commitments)

17 All the right theories, principles, and policies in the world still need to be lived out by persons in concrete circumstances – recall that ethics is a practical discipline Prudence grows with knowledge gained by study, experience, and reflection Prudence allows us to make the best choice, here and now, in these circumstances, while respecting our larger commitments with integrity


19 Where are your interests in learning more?
Where do you look for resources / information? Questions / Discussion …

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