California Archbishop says Christian Healthcare Professionals are Facing Increasing Threats in Their Field


Faithful Catholics need to be aware of the ever-increasing serious threats to Christians living their faith in the field of medicine, warned Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles.

Noting the annual White Mass for health care professionals in the archdiocese, which was held at the cathedral Oct. 23, the archbishop reflected in his weekly column on the history of Christians in medicine.

“Before Christianity, the healing arts were practiced by self-taught individuals who traveled from town to town,” he said. “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 very beginning, Archbishop Gomez said, Christian doctors served all patients that came to them, including those of different religions, social statuses and people with highly contagious diseases.

Some doctors even died from the diseases they contracted from their patients, he said. “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.”

“Something else distinguished early Christian doctors,” the archbishop continued, “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.”

But while these basic commitments by Catholic doctors and nurses remain, the surrounding world of health care has greatly changed, he said.

Archbishop Gomez pointed to current challenges ranging from the rise of insurance costs to new pressure on doctors to treat patients in a certain way.

Particularly troubling, he said, is the rise of assisted suicide measures, which are being considered this fall in several states.

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