19th World Congress (FIAMC) and 67th Convention (CMA)
International Federations of Catholic Medical Associations and the Catholic Medical Association (USA)
[EWTN: The concluding statement of the joint meeting of the 19th World Congress of the FIAMC and the 67th Annual Convention of the CMA are extremely interesting, in that it represents the judgments of Catholics skilled in medical science and knowledgeable and loyal to the Faith.]
We, Catholic doctors, as we bring to an end, in prayerful solidarity, the combined 19th World Congress of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and the 67th Annual Convention of the Catholic Medical Association (USA), in New York City, September 10-13, 1998, do share with deeply held conviction the following conclusions:
"Christus Medicus" -- Christ, our Healer, Christ the Divine Physician -- is our enduring, steadfast source of saving grace, of moral courage, of professional excellence, and of spiritual inspiration and enlightenment. As Catholic physicians, we are each called to serve, in a unique sense, as "Alter Christus," as "Another Christ." Through the mystery of the Eucharist, Christ would use our hands, our minds, and our hearts, reaching out to our patients in their moment of need. We are challenged to realize, in touching and healing the wounds -- both physical and psychology -- of each patient we treat, that we are privileged to touch and heal the very wounds of Christ, Our Lord.
The Magisterium of our Catholic Church, through its teachings, provides to us an ageless light, shining all the more brightly in the darkness of modern-day secular humanism and moral relativism. By studying, by promoting, and by incorporating into daily practice, the messages held in relevant papal documents -- such as Evangelium Vitae, Donum Vitae, and Humanae Vitae, we, Catholic doctors, are strengthened in our calling to serve proudly and unapologetically as countercultural witnesses to the eternal truth of God's boundless and unconditional love.
The energetic involvement of Spirit-filled Catholic medical students has been a highlight of this joint convocation. The hope for the future of Catholic medicine rests on the success of our ongoing outreach to these students. We strongly encourage the active involvement, on a local, national, and international level, on the part of physicians-in-training at the pre-medical and medical school level, as well as in residency and fellowship programs.
The active involvement of women physicians in this meeting has been another highlight. We vigorously support and encourage the continued and increased involvement of Catholic women and minorities in all of our organizations.
Historic, at our meeting, too, has been our opportunity to welcome and greet in person, for the first time in over forty years, our colleagues and brothers in Christ from the island of Cuba, and to celebrate with many other colleagues -- from Lithuania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Croatia and elsewhere -- their newly found freedoms.
Medical mission outreach to those suffering and in need -- in Romania, in Honduras and Brazil, and throughout the world -- is and must remain a foremost commitment. We welcome, with special enthusiasm, participation on the part of our Catholic colleagues from developing nations, such as the Philippines and Angola. Plans for future meetings should include goals for increasing participation on the part of our colleagues in under-served parts of the world. At the same time, we Catholic doctors, stress the need on all of our parts, on a regular basis, to support and actively participate in Catholic medical mission activities, to those in greatest need, both abroad and within our own nations.
With the same spirit we are determined to increase our efforts to be recognized as a Non Governmental Organization by the World Health Organization, to be more effective in serving the right of developing countries and the ethical needs of modern medicine.
We, Catholic doctors, renounce the evil of artificial contraception in all its forms. Most especially, we reject those agents, which, while masquerading as contraceptives, achieve their life-destroying effect through their abortifacient properties. We denounce the contraceptive imperialism of United States and United Nations governmental agencies, which propagandize, with missionary zeal, the worldwide spread of life-destroying abortifacients, condoms and contraceptives. Conversely, we celebrate the life-affirming vision of wholesome sexuality and parenthood, which Christ teaches us through our Catholic Church. And we practice and promote positive programs, such as Natural Family Planning, Natural Procreative Technology and Ecological Breastfeeding.
We, Catholic doctors, renounce the evils of euthanasia and physician- assisted suicide. Most especially, we would warn of the dangers and pitfalls of "Living Wills" and related documents. We renounce pressure from governmental agencies and third-party-payers, who would have us act in the interest of cost-reduction, at the expense of our own patients' best interests. Conversely, we celebrate the life-affirming vision of truly compassionate end- of-life care. We strongly encourage widespread education in palliative care and effective pain management. And we support life-affirming programs, such as Hospice Care.
Impressed by the striking social differences of New York City, and by the abundance of homeless and poor in this center of affluent living, we proclaim the right of every human being to receive at least the basic health care, especially when chronic or disabling diseases affect them.
Powerfully united together in prayer at this momentous meeting, we, Catholic doctors, commit ourselves to pray for one another on a daily basis, for the salvation of our souls, for our families and colleagues, for our patients, for the great gift of our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and for the world. Consecrated here to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we, Catholic doctors, commit ourselves to Christ-centered practice of our professions and conduct of our lives. "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom Come in Us."
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