BIOETHICS

Dear leaders in AFCMA,

1. There is a widening gap between civil law and the
medical concept of ethics on the one hand and Catholic
medical ethics on the other.

2. 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
a pandemic 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 II
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.”

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. We must act. Faith without works is dead. If we
Catholics 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.

8. 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.”

9. Following the decision made at the 13th AFCMA EXCO
meeting on 27th Nov 2004 and noting the final
resolutions of the 13th AFCMA 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. Or in the words of Pope John Paul II, “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.)

Posted by Dr Ian Snodgrass, AFCMA Bioethics Committee

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