Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Message form AFCMA Bioethics Committee

Dear leaders in AFCMA,

There is a widening gap between civil law anct-the medical concept of ethics on the one hand and Catholic medical ethics on the other. In spite of a proliferation of clinical and research ethics committees, we have widespread and increasing contraception, abortion, manipulation and cannibalisation of embryos, a disordered sexuality and 9pandemic of AIDS. Without trivialising the Asian tsunami tragedy and the grief of those afflicted by it, this man-made medico-moral tsunami is surpassing it in horror and magnitude and engulfing the whole world. Underlying this flood of evil is an increasing willingness to do evil acts for medical, scientific and social goals. Evil acts are becoming good things to do when there are good reasons, and since no one does anything without a good reason this trend is opening the door to all evil actions, to the corruption of conscience and to the increasing inability to make moral choices. Without divine intervention, such a fundamental error can have no outcome but catastrophe. The holocaust began in the mind but mass killing in clinics and- laboratories is now part of mainstream life. In Evangelium Vitae 1995, Pope John Paul 11 characterised the bioethical deviation and the resulting disrespect for human life as the Culture of Death, warning that it is "expanding and has reached broad sectors of public opinion, a real network of complicity that reaches out to include international institutions, foundations and associations."

Catholic doctors need to restore and enhance the sense of belonging in the fecund family harmony of God, which is the source of Man's dignity and the meaning of health, and to beware the ruptured link between the Creator and the creature that secular humanism represents. Forearmed with this sense of being, they will then be able to resist more effectively the anti-life forces that are trying to establish an egoistic sterility and the destruction of the family, and thus to be leaders against the Culture of Death that is consuming the profession and the world. We must act. Faith without works is dead. If weCatholics do not practice our Catholic pro-life beliefs in public for fear of offending others, we are being not tolerant but cowardly. Silence favours the oppressor. Being Catholic only in private and remaining neutral or silent in public in the face of evil, or worse supporting it, is not an option for us. We must leave the upper room. If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput put it this way, "if we believe in the sanctity of life we need to prove that by our actions, including our political choices. Anything less leads to the corruption of our integrity. Claiming that 'we don't want to impose our beliefs on society' is not merely politically convenient; it is morally incoherent and irresponsible."

Following the decision made at the 13th AFCMA EXCO meeting on 27th Nov 2004 and noting the final resolutions of the 13th AFC MA Congress in Taiwan, the recently formed Bioethics committee of AFCMA seeks to disseminate Church teaching on life issues, Catholic medical ethics and moral theology and to preserve our own integrity in a deteriorating world. The committee comprises moral theologians and a few doctors from different member countries. Perhaps the committee could draft a paper at quarterly intervals and issue a consensus view consistent with Church teaching after discussion with all of you over the e-mail, which you could then translate and disseminate to your own national doctors' groups. Increased communication among the like minded will help to overcome the sense of being overwhelmed, fearful and alone and thence to spread the truth, to experience Grace and to acknowledge our God in public. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome on how we could go about our task of inspiring and enabling Catholic doctors in our own individual societies to become more effective bearers of truth and more actively resist the Culture of Death. Or in the words of Pope John Paul 11, "to bear witness to the Gift of Life in our profession, committing ourselves to defending it from conception to its natural end, and respecting the dignity of every human being, especially the dignity of the weakest and the most in need."

( Prayer of the doctor.)

AFCMA Bioethics Committee

Feb 2005