MaterCare International gathers at our Rome conference for a very important reason, we come here for community. Catholic health care professionals, especially in the field of obstetrics, are facing moral and ethical challenges to their faith and practice across the globe. The question we are here to address this conference is; will Catholic healthcare wither? Or whither? The hope of this conference is that it will thrive by moving in a more united direction.
Health care has long been a central apostolate for the Catholic Church, caring for the sick and the poor. The future of Catholic health care as a whole relies on our ability to maintain our sense of community, to have courage in the face of opposition, to have conviction and competency. Our speaker, Geraldine McSweeney, President of CICIAMS International spoke to the increasing moral stress of nurses. This speaks to the need for Catholic physicians, nurses, midwives and specialists, with the support of clergy and religious, to build a network of the faithful. Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin spoke to us yesterday and said, “Bishops and laypeople both have a responsibility to protect the right to life.” This is true, and there has never been a greater need for us show true charity and love by opposing the culture of death together, united.
Abortion and euthanasia are not only Irish problems, they are not Canadian problems, these issues will continue to put pressure on countries in Africa, to put pressure on countries like Poland. Catholic health care providers have an obligation to provide modern and effective life affirming alternatives that are accessible and faithful to Catholic moral teachings.
In her keynote address entitled, “Is medicine as a vocation still possible?” to us on Wednesday, Sr. Dr. Maria Pilar Nunez Cubero stated, “Medicine is a place where money and prestige are to be had. It is an attractive place to seek self-gain, but it is an especially dangerous profession in which to do so and has repercussions of inappropriate care and can devastate the vulnerable people served.” Each of us must ask ourselves, are we prepared and willing to sacrifice for our roles as doctors. Patrick Buckley of the European Life Network said, “We are already suffering white martyrdom when we are told we must accept abortion, and other degenerate anti life actions in order to keep our jobs. Then there is red martyrdom when we are asked to give our lives in support of the truth of Christ, it may come to this sooner than we think.”
Dr. Dermot Kearney, President of the Catholic Medical Association in the UK, delivered a presentation outlining how we as a community can move forward with faith and courage, “to teach, guide, protect, and spread the Gospel.” MaterCare International, as an organization dedicated to the care of mothers and babies, would add to that, stating that we must nurture the person, their families and their relationships with one another as a whole, reinstating mothers to their rightful positions, to recognize them as gifts to humanity of such fundamental importance that it must be cherished and served in special ways.
To answer the question surrounding the future of Catholic healthcare, we can only turn to ourselves, and examine the strength of our convictions, but we require the support of our communities to continue nurturing the seeds that have been sewn.
Note: This presentation was live streamed and is now available in video at