Conscience, compassion and health care

Angelus

Archbishop José Gomez

On Oct. 23, we celebrated our annual White Mass for those in the healing professions of medicine and health care at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

As we know, Christians have been doctors and nurses from the earliest days of the Church. Before Christianity, the healing arts were practiced by self-taught individuals who traveled from town to town. Christians invented the hospital and were the first to establish medicine as a profession, with standards for training and care and a commitment to medical research.

From the beginning, Christian doctors served everyone, regardless of religion or social status, and they refused to turn any patient away — even those with highly contagious diseases.

Historians tell us that Christians were the only ones who cared for the sick and dying during the plagues and epidemics that afflicted the late Roman Empire. Many of them died from diseases they contracted from their patients.

Something else distinguished early Christian doctors — from the beginning they refused to take part in abortion, infanticide, birth control, assisted suicide or castration, all of which they considered bad medical practice and contrary to the truths of the Gospel.

These basic commitments continue to distinguish Catholic and Christian doctors and nurses. But these are challenging times in health care. . . [Full text]

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