“God has no hands but yours,” Archbishop Nicholas Chia told Catholic medical doctors, medical students and their families, who came together to celebrate the Catholic Medical Guild’s (CMG) 60th anniversary on Oct 21.
In his homily during the Mass, held at the Hotel Grand Pacific, Archbishop Chia told those present that medicine was not a career, nor was it just a profession. Medicine, he said, is a vocation and calling from God.
By seeing it in this light, he continued, Catholic doctors would be able to avoid making a routine of their work and avoid being burnt out by the pressures of such work.
Such an attitude would bring a spiritual dimension to their daily tasks and make their work more meaningful, he said. Doctors then become God’s hands – effective instruments of God to serve the sick and the suffering.
Archbishop Chia cited the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of the kind of service Catholic doctors are called to, and reminded them that they must always see in their patients the face of Christ.
The Mass was followed by a dinner that began with a video presentation on the past contributions and future aspirations of the CMG.
The highlight of the dinner was the Fr Edmund Dunne Memorial Lecture delivered by Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney’s Parramatta diocese. He is also professor of moral theology and bioethics at the John Paul II institute at Melbourne Australia.
Bishop Fisher said that bioethics was the study of ethical issues that arise in medicine, the life sciences and biotechnology, which are all advancing at an incredible pace.
He spoke about the commonly used principles in medical ethics – autonomy, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence – and challenged the audience with real life issues that doctors commonly face such as whether or not to tell the truth to a patient dying with cancer, and medical care at the end of life, using these principles.
He concluded that these principles were not so much principles that should be used to determine whether a medical act was ethical or not, but rather, that they were more akin to basic common-sense principles of any moral life.
Rather than use these principles to “do” ethics, he suggested that Catholic doctors be aware of how others may use these principles in ways that go against the dignity of the human person and against life.
Many in the audience bought a copy of Bishop Fisher’s new book Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium at the dinner (see Review of Bishop Fisher’s book).
By Dr Colin Ong