“Indeed, I confess, that of the Penitentiary is the kind of Court I really like. Because it is the “court of mercy” we turn to, to receive the crucial medicine for our soul, which is… More
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
First of all, let us all thank God for it is because of His grace that we can all meet here in Kyoto for the 16th Congress of AFCMA. I would like to congratulate all the organizing committee under the leadership of Dr. Buiichi as the Chairman for all the hard work they have put together to coordinate this event. I would like to express my appreciation also to the Japan Catholic Medical Association under the leadership Shigeki Hitomi MD as the president for hosting the congress.
I would like to sincerely thank you all members who have entrusted AFCMA under my care in the last 4 years. I especially thank all the Vice Presidents, Secretary General, Treasurer, and all AFCMA committee members who have assisted me throughout my tenure as President. I would also appreciate Fr Gino and John Lee for their advices. I would like to also offer my deepest apologies for not being able to facilitate all the ideas you have put across to us and for not being able to organise more events to accommodate your needs.
I am, however, genuinely proud that all of us collectively have achieved a lot in the past four years. Among our achievements are:
- We have provided financial assistance and organised fundraising events to assist the victims of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2012.
- We actively participated in the FIAMC Executive Committee Meeting in Rome, Italy in 2013, although I had to be absent due to my untimely hospitalisation. The report from this meeting was presented by Dr Patricia from Singapore.
- We successfully held the FIAMC Congress and its Executive Meeting in Manila in 2014.
- We successfully held the AFCMA Executive Meeting in Manila which aimed to improve communication between AFCMA members.
- We have communicated our Easter and Christmas messages to all AFCMA members and our messages have always been featured in the FIAMC publications.
We have also attempted in establishing a better website for AFCMA in addition to the current Blogspot site. Unfortunately this has not been effectively utilised. I am hoping that the next AFCMA president would be able to accept this challenge for a better communication between members and provide better mechanisms for information and knowledge exchange. I am confident that all of us can utilise the advances in information technology to our advantage.
Finally, as I am stepping down from my presidency, I would like to wish you all the very best and I offer my prayers for a meaningful congress in Kyoto and for a better organisation under the leadership of the next President. May we all continue to be great proclaimers of the Gospel, who live our Christian values not just through our words but also through our actions in saving people’s lives. God bless us all.
A moral theologian has reminded Catholic doctors to uphold the ethical values of their profession and refrain from doing things harmful to human life, particularly to unborn children.
“The most important principle is to maintain life,” said Father Carolus Boromeus Kusmaryanto, addressing Catholic doctors participating in a seminar in Jakarta on 16 July. “It’s the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
The seminar, “Respect the Unborn: Challenges for Catholic Doctors in the Modern Technological Era” was organized by Jakarta Archdiocese and addressed a variety of moral issues surrounding fetuses, including in-vitro fertilization and abortion.
Father Kusmaryanto — a moral theologian at the Catholic University of Sanata Dharma in Yogyakarta — admitted that the biggest challenge for medics is how to keep human dignity intact and protect people from inhumane practices in the face of life-terminating technology.
The Catholic Church believes that human life begins at conception. “Medical action that destroys the life of a fetus can never be justified,” said the priest.
The Indonesian Church won’t even stand for abortion in the case of a child being conceived through rape. Bishops pointed to a speech given by Pope John Paul II who said a child should not pay the price for the sin of its conception.
In such cases and if the couple cannot take care of their children, the church suggests adoption, said Father Kusmaryanto.
“A child is a gift from God and should be accepted with gratitude,” he said.
Eva Roria Silalahi, an obstetrician, said that doctors face a dilemma. With regards to prenatal diagnostics, she often faces difficulties if the fetus has an abnormality. “Sometimes the families ask to terminate the fetus, which is against our faith,” said Silalahi.
“On the one hand there are professional demands and on the other it is against religious teaching,” she said.
Meanwhile, Doctor Friesca Vienna Saputra of the Youth Mission for Life, a Catholic pro-life group, said that the moral question surrounding fetal life is complex. Continued guidance and campaigning from the Catholic Church remains crucial amidst an increase in abortions, about 2.4-2.6 million cases per year in Indonesia.
“Every minute there are five abortions in Indonesia,” she told ucanews.com.
It’s not only unmarried couples but married couples who don’t want more children, or because of failed contraception, said Saputra.
“Awareness, education, and seminars on pro-life are important,” she said.
Date: 10 (Thu) to 13 (Sun) November, 2016
Venue: Shiran Kaikan in Kyoto University, Kyoto Brighton Hotel
Host: Japan Catholic Medical Association (JCMA)
What Should We Do for the Least of Our Brethren? (Matthew, 25:40)
President of JCMA: Shigeki Hitomi
Chairman: Buichi Ishijima
Chief of Executive Committee: Shigeyuki Kano
Chief of Scientific Committee: Fumihiko Shinozaki
Chief Treasurer: Emiko Wada
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
Japan Catholic Nurses Association
Japan Catholic Medical Institute Association
Japan Catholic Senior Residence Association
Japan Christian Medical Association
Japan Catholic Medical Association (JCMA)
TEL: +81-3-5340-7162 FAX: +81-3-5340-7163
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My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Easter is the peak of our liturgical journey as Catholics. The Holy Week, starting from Palm Sunday, through to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Saturday and Sunday, commemorate the passion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It signifies the completion of his mission on Earth. Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross perfectly illustrate God’s ultimate love to us, by sacrificing his only Son for the redemption of humankind. As his followers, we must constantly remind ourselves that our Lord has lowered himself to be one of us, and he died in the cruellest of ways in order to save us from sins. While Jesus had always had the option to bail out, he surrendered himself to God’s will, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). He dutifully carried his cross, humiliated and tortured, and ultimately died.
As mere humans, we would never be able to repay God’s kindness to us. However, one of
Jesus’ final message before he ascended into heaven was for us to “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). We are told to evangelise. This does not necessarily mean we stand in front of public and yell out God’s Gospel to the people around us, but the most important aspect of evangelisation is through our actions, through our service to God and to one another. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
As Catholic doctors, we are also called to be part of this evangelisation of God’s love and mercy. We look around us and we can easily see that there are a lot of people who are suffering, both physically, mentally, and spiritually. Hunger, poverty, and illnesses are still the major problems in the world we live in today. Natural disasters and wars only make these worse. We CAN make a contribution to save the world. We can alleviate the suffering. The talent that God gave us to treat the sick should be put to good use. Through our actions, we must provide the best possible care to the unfortunate. We must treat our patients with care, and most importantly, with love. We must also help others sincerely, without expecting anything in return. Most importantly, we must abandon our personal needs and put our patients as the focus of our service, just as Jesus abandoned himself and put us as the centre of his suffering and death on the cross. Having these positive mindsets, we will be able to carry out our duties as doctors in good spirit, and we will be able to practice our faith in our daily lives. Throughout history, we are privileged to have prominent examples of these principles in the likes of Dr. Eleonora Cantamessa, Fr. John Lee Tae-Seok, Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and Saint Damian de Veuster of Molokai. By doing these good deeds, we will be able to truly call ourselves sons and daughters of Christ, we obey God’s commandments to us to spread the Gospel, and we thank him for sending his only Son to redeem our sins.
I wish you all a very blessed Easter. May the spirit of the risen Christ strengthen us in our service to the Church and to the whole world. God bless you all.
Ignatius Harjadi Widjaja MD DEd
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE 24th WORLD DAY OF THE SICK (Feb 11th 2016)
Entrusting Oneself to the Merciful Jesus like Mary:
“Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The twenty-fourth World Day of the Sick offers me an opportunity to draw particularly close to you, dear friends who are ill, and to those who care for you.
This year, since the Day of the Sick will be solemnly celebrated in the Holy Land, I wish to propose a meditation on the Gospel account of the wedding feast of Cana (Jn 2: 1-11), where Jesus performed his first miracle through the intervention of his Mother. The theme chosen – Entrusting Oneself to the Merciful Jesus like Mary: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5) is quite fitting in light of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The main Eucharistic celebration of the Day will take place on 11 February 2016, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Nazareth itself, where “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). In Nazareth, Jesus began his salvific mission, applying to himself the words of the Prophet Isaiah, as we are told by the Evangelist Luke: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Lk4:18-19).
Illness, above all grave illness, always places human existence in crisis and brings with it questions that dig deep. Our first response may at times be one of rebellion: Why has this happened to me? We can feel desperate, thinking that all is lost, that things no longer have meaning…
In these situations, faith in God is on the one hand tested, yet at the same time can reveal all of its positive resources. Not because faith makes illness, pain, or the questions which they raise, disappear, but because it offers a key by which we can discover the deepest meaning of what we are experiencing; a key that helps us to see how illness can be the way to draw nearer to Jesus who walks at our side, weighed down by the Cross. And this key is given to us by Mary, our Mother, who has known this way at first hand.
At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary is the thoughtful woman who sees a serious problem for the spouses: the wine, the symbol of the joy of the feast, has run out. Mary recognizes the difficulty, in some way makes it her own, and acts swiftly and discreetly. She does not simply look on, much less spend time in finding fault, but rather, she turns to Jesus and presents him with the concrete problem: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3). And when Jesus tells her that it is not yet the time for him to reveal himself (cf. v. 4), she says to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you” (v. 5). Jesus then performs the miracle, turning water into wine, a wine that immediately appears to be the best of the whole celebration. What teaching can we draw from this mystery of the wedding feast of Cana for the World Day of the Sick?
The wedding feast of Cana is an image of the Church: at the centre there is Jesus who in his mercy performs a sign; around him are the disciples, the first fruits of the new community; and beside Jesus and the disciples is Mary, the provident and prayerful Mother. Mary partakes of the joy of ordinary people and helps it to increase; she intercedes with her Son on behalf of the spouses and all the invited guests. Nor does Jesus refuse the request of his Mother. How much hope there is in that event for all of us! We have a Mother with benevolent and watchful eyes, like her Son; a heart that is maternal and full of mercy, like him; hands that want to help, like the hands of Jesus who broke bread for those who were hungry, touched the sick and healed them. All this fills us with trust and opens our hearts to the grace and mercy of Christ. Mary’s intercession makes us experience the consolation for which the apostle Paul blesses God: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow” (2 Cor 1:3-5). Mary is the “comforted” Mother who comforts her children.
At Cana the distinctive features of Jesus and his mission are clearly seen: he comes to the help of those in difficulty and need. Indeed, in the course of his messianic ministry he would heal many people of illnesses, infirmities and evil spirits, give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, restore health and dignity to lepers, raise the dead, and proclaim the good news to the poor (cf. Lk 7:21-22). Mary’s request at the wedding feast, suggested by the Holy Spirit to her maternal heart, clearly shows not only Jesus’ messianic power but also his mercy.
In Mary’s concern we see reflected the tenderness of God. This same tenderness is present in the lives of all those persons who attend the sick and understand their needs, even the most imperceptible ones, because they look upon them with eyes full of love. How many times has a mother at the bedside of her sick child, or a child caring for an elderly parent, or a grandchild concerned for a grandparent, placed his or her prayer in the hands of Our Lady! For our loved ones who suffer because of illness we ask first for their health. Jesus himself showed the presence of the Kingdom of God specifically through his healings: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them” (Mt 11:4-5). But love animated by faith makes us ask for them something greater than physical health: we ask for peace, a serenity in life that comes from the heart and is God’s gift, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, a gift which the Father never denies to those who ask him for it with trust.
In the scene of Cana, in addition to Jesus and his Mother, there are the “servants”, whom she tells: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn2:5). Naturally, the miracle takes place as the work of Christ; however, he wants to employ human assistance in performing this miracle. He could have made the wine appear directly in the jars. But he wants to rely upon human cooperation, and so he asks the servants to fill them with water. How wonderful and pleasing to God it is to be servants of others! This more than anything else makes us like Jesus, who “did not come to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45). These unnamed people in the Gospel teach us a great deal. Not only do they obey, but they obey generously: they fill the jars to the brim (cf. Jn 2:7). They trust the Mother and carry out immediately and well what they are asked to do, without complaining, without second thoughts.
On this World Day of the Sick let us ask Jesus in his mercy, through the intercession of Mary, his Mother and ours, to grant to all of us this same readiness to be serve those in need, and, in particular, our infirm brothers and sisters. At times this service can be tiring and burdensome, yet we are certain that the Lord will surely turn our human efforts into something divine. We too can be hands, arms and hearts which help God to perform his miracles, so often hidden. We too, whether healthy or sick, can offer up our toil and sufferings like the water which filled the jars at the wedding feast of Cana and was turned into the finest wine. By quietly helping those who suffer, as in illness itself, we take our daily cross upon our shoulders and follow the Master (cf. Lk 9:23). Even though the experience of suffering will always remain a mystery, Jesus helps us to reveal its meaning.
If we can learn to obey the words of Mary, who says: “Do whatever he tells you”, Jesus will always change the water of our lives into precious wine. Thus this World Day of the Sick, solemnly celebrated in the Holy Land, will help fulfil the hope which I expressed in the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy: ‘I trust that this Jubilee year celebrating the mercy of God will foster an encounter with [Judaism and Islam] and with other noble religious traditions; may it open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; may it eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination’ (Misericordiae Vultus, 23). Every hospital and nursing home can be a visible sign and setting in which to promote the culture of encounter and peace, where the experience of illness and suffering, along with professional and fraternal assistance, helps to overcome every limitation and division.
For this we are set an example by the two Religious Sisters who were canonized last May: Saint Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas and Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified Baouardy, both daughters of the Holy Land. The first was a witness to meekness and unity, who bore clear witness to the importance of being responsible for one another other, living in service to one another. The second, a humble and illiterate woman, was docile to the Holy Spirit and became an instrument of encounter with the Muslim world.
To all those who assist the sick and the suffering I express my confident hope that they will draw inspiration from Mary, the Mother of Mercy. “May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness” (ibid., 24), allow it to dwell in our hearts and express it in our actions! Let us entrust to the Virgin Mary our trials and tribulations, together with our joys and consolations. Let us beg her to turn her eyes of mercy towards us, especially in times of pain, and make us worthy of beholding, today and always, the merciful face of her Son Jesus!
With this prayer for all of you, I send my Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 15 September 2015
Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Soon we will be celebrating Easter, commemorating our risen Lord’s victory over death. We also reflect upon Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice by death on the cross. Jesus surrendered His life, died in the most horrific way,in obedience to His Father’s will to redeem our sins. Jesus’ passion is the greatest testimony of God’s love to us. As Easter is approaching, it is only appropriate for us to examine our conscience, introspect upon our experiences in our life as doctors. How much love have we given to our suffering patients? We recall when Jesus told us about the Final Judgment, where he would assess us on what we did to the least of us (Matthew 25:31-46). He would ask us, “Did you feed me when I was hungry? Did you give me drink when I was thirsty? Did you welcome me when I came as a stranger? Did you cloth me when I was naked? Did you care for me when I was ill? Did you visit me when I was imprisoned?”
Many people call themselves Catholics, and a number of these also become doctors. However, how many of us can truly call ourselves Catholic doctors? How many of us truly live our faith in our life as doctors, serving our patients with tender loving care, helping those who are suffering and marginalized, following Jesus’ teaching which strongly defended and cared for the poor? As Catholic doctors, we must NOT be tempted by materialistic gain. The focus of our service should always be at the interest of the patient we care for. This is what Jesus told us to do, to love and serve one another, just as He loved us (John 13:34).
Also, we have to constantly remind ourselves that no matter how expert we think we are, our knowledge is still limited. Let us not be complacent and arrogant with our medical capabilities. We must acknowledge that at times we encounter cases which cannot be resolved with our current level of knowledge, no matter how hard we try to find the answers. There are times where we simply feel powerless. As followers of Christ, we should always leave our words and actions in the hands of God. At the time of need, we are encouraged to ask God for help (Matthew 7:7), for all things are possible for God (Mark 10:27). We have to have faith in Him, for if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will be able to move the mountain (Matthew 17:20). Speaking from my own experiences, I encourage you to always pray to God in every service we provide to others in need. Through the intercession of St. Luke and Raphael the Archangel, patron saints of the doctors, and Mary, Health of the Sick, we give thanks to the Lord for our knowledge and skills to treat the sick and injured, and we ask God to guide and support us in every action we do, particularly in difficult times.
Like Jesus, some of our brothers and sisters have also made the ultimate sacrifice in their duty as doctors. I would like to also take this opportunity to reflect upon their stories, learn from their experiences, and ask you to remember them in your prayers. Among others, we remember especially the work of a Salesian priest and medical doctor Fr. John Lee Tae-Seok, who dedicated himself at the service to the lepers in Sudan until his death from cancer at the tender age of 47. We also remember the story of Dr.EleonoraCantamessa, a 44-year-old good Samaritan who was tragically killed in Bergamo, Italy, while giving first aid to a man who was wounded in the fighting between gangs of immigrants. Seeing an injured person lying on the road, Dr.Cantamessa’s immediate reaction was to stop her vehicle and attend to him. She was also killed by rival gang members who wanted him dead. These two heroes did not stop their work even after realising the severity of the situation they were facing, and knowing that their actions might cost them their lives. It was their life calling to save others, and they truly put the interest of their patients above their own safety. I trulyyearn that these two people inspire your life as Catholic doctors. Ihope you are encouraged to give your all in your service to God, caring of the sick and injured, and help your patients improve their quality of life. My prayers are with you in every step you take. Happy Easter! May God bless all of us and lead us in our practises.
Ignatius Harjadi Widjaja MD DEd
President of AFCMA
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we prepare our hearts to celebrate God’s incarnation to the world to redeem our sins, and as we approach the end of the year, let us take this opportunity to reflect and introspect upon our services as medical doctors. Our calling as healthcare providers is noble. In Evangelium Vitae, an encyclical letter regarding the value and inviolability of human life, Pope Saint John Paul II highlighted that our work is a very valuable service to life. He went on to mention that the work of healthcare persons “expresses a profoundly human and Christian commitment, undertaken and carried out not only as a technical activity but also as one of dedication to and love of neighbour” (EV 89). He continued by saying that “(our) profession calls for them to be guardians and servants of human life” (EV 89).
Realising the privileges we have and the importance of our services, it is an absolute requirement for us to always respect the human dignity and its sanctity in making our decisions for our patients. Human dignity is highly regarded in the eyes of our Catholic faith. Humans are God’s most advanced creation. We recall that “God made man in his own image, made him in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).”
Indeed, this point is further emphasised “Catholic health care ministry is rooted in a commitment to promote and defend human dignity; this is the foundation of its concern to respect the sacredness of every human life from the moment of conception until death. The first right of the human person, the right to life, entails a right to the means for the proper development of life, such as adequate health care”.
In providing healthcare services, the respect of human dignity means we view all our patients as equals regardless of their racial and socio-economic backgrounds. “The inherent dignity of the human person must be respected and protected regardless of the nature of the person’s health problem or social status. The respect for human dignity extends to all persons who are served by Catholic health care” (E.R 23). The greatest challenge in this regard is to prevent ourselves from being servants to money and power. We have to constantly remember that all lives are equal in the eyes of God and thus we must not discriminate in treating our patients.
Furthermore, “A person in need of health care and the professional health care provider who accepts that person as a patient enter into a relationship that requires, among other things, mutual respect, trust, honesty, and appropriate confidentiality”. In my opinion, these four aspects can be fulfilled if we base our works on the acts of love, more specifically God’s love. As I have previously mentioned, God himself has given us a privilege in our ability to save people’s lives. Therefore, as a form of our thanksgiving to God, we should use our talents to spread His love to others, to the patients we treat.
How do we show God’s love in practice? The absolute requirement is sincerity. Being a medical doctor is not just a profession, it is a life calling. We have to carry out our duties with honest intentions to improve people’s lives. Our patients entrust their lives into our hands, so it is our moral obligation to honour this by putting all our efforts and provide the best service to treat them. I strongly believe that one of our most joyous moments as doctors is when we see our patients leave in pure happiness after being cured from their illness.
Relating this to Christmas, let us take this opportunity to give hope to our patients through our services, with the same spirit as God’s arrival on earth which gave hope to many who were longing for a saviour. We should all remember that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do it for God (cf. Matthew 25:40).
I sincerely wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year 2015. God bless every step of our lives and may He guide and protect us in our service to Him and to our patients in need.
Ignatius Harjadi W. MD
President of AFCMA