The 17th AFCMA Congress 2020

Theme: Building Bridges through Healing & Spirituality

“…. Every human being must envision to build bridges not only in the home, the community, or in the country-but in the entire world as we are all brothers and sisters with the Lord. As physicians, we are called to a mission of healing; but as catholic Physicians, may our way of healing not just be a profession but an action of love and mercy. With that bridge, we can go out to every man and woman bringing the goodness and tenderness of God.”

Manuel M. Po, MD, MPH
President AFCMA

Date: 29 October to 1 November, 2020
Venue: Armada Hotel, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Host: Catholic Doctors Association of Malaysia

Organising & Scientific CommitteeName
Organising ChairpersonDr Freddie Loh
SecretaryDr Juliet Mathew
Assistant Secretary
Christopher Phang
TreasurerDr Melvin Raj
Website & RegistrationDr Sharon Gopalan
Scientific ProgrammeDr Benedict Sim

   1. Dr Stephen Ambu
   2. Dr Richard Lim
   3. Dr Sharon Anne Khor
   4. Dr Mark Tan
   5. Prof Yvonne Lim
PublicationDr Juliet Mathew

   1. Dr Sharon Gopalan
Trade ExhibitionDr KY Chong

   1. Dr Francis Lopez
LiturgyDr Frederick Yap
FacilitiesDr David Kumar

   1. Dr Dunstan Fernandez
Entertainment/SocialDr Joseph Jacob

   1. Dato’ Dr Anthonysamy
   2. Dr G Raj

Website: WWW.AFCMA2020.COM

Catholic Medical Association: fund palliative care, not assisted suicide

Washington D.C., Sep 24, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- The Catholic Medical Association, along with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association, are voicing support for a bill pending in Congress to fund training, research, and education on palliative care.

Palliative care involves medical care and pain management for the symptoms of those suffering from a serious illness, and refraining from taking actions that directly take the life of the patient, as opposed to the practices of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“Our role as physicians is to care for patients at all stages of their lives, and to try to do so in an empathetic manner, showing them kindness and charity in their particular circumstances,” CMA President Dr. John Schirger said in a Sept. 23 statement.

“When there is nothing further we can do to change the course of a disease process, we can still remain with them, showing them kindness and solidarity. Our colleagues who practice palliative care have a privileged opportunity to care for patients during this most important time of their lives.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced S. 2080, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, in July.

According to the CMA, the bill would provide federal grants to train more health professionals with expertise in palliative care so they can integrate it into their own practices, and would also fund research to improve methods for palliative care, and support programs to inform patients and health professionals of the benefits of such care.

The CMA noted that “some of our friends and allies in the effort against euthanasia and assisted suicide” have cited cases of patients being given large doses of painkillers to cause death, and also some physicians, ethicists, and state legislators who are attempting to define assisted suicide as a form of palliative care.

Despite this, the CMA said they see the current bill as “not part of the problem but part of the solution.”

The organization noted that S.2080 incorporates the policy of the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act, which since 1997 has excluded assisted suicide and euthanasia from all federal health programs. It also adds an explicit provision that “palliative care and hospice shall not be furnished for the purpose of causing, or the purpose of assisting in causing, a patient’s death, for any reason.”

While the Catholic Church recognizes life as a good, patients and doctors are not required to do everything possible to avoid death if a life has reached its natural conclusion and medical intervention would not be beneficial.

The CMA emphasized their position that “the goal of palliative care is to promote effective relief of pain and suffering, not to eliminate the sufferer.”

Countries with legal euthanasia are the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, and Canada. Assisted suicide is legal in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. In the US, assisted suicide is legal in California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, and in Montana by a court ruling. A law allowing it in Maine will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The bishops of Canada have been particularly vocal in support of palliative care, amid governmental efforts to expand assisted suicide and euthanasia, practices which have been legal in that country since 2016.

The Canadian bishops have multiple times stated that it is imperative that assisted suicide and euthanasia not be included as part of palliative care programs.

The bishops recently signed an interreligious statement that defines palliative care as “a comprehensive approach to end-of-life challenges, palliative care combines pain management with efforts to attend to a patient’s psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual needs, as well as caregiver support…the practice of palliative care does not include interventions which intentionally cause the death of the patient.”

Credit: oneinchpunch/Shutterstock.


Doctors are servants, not owners, of life, pope says

Junno Arocho Esteves
Jun 24, 2019

ROME – Catholic doctors have a mission to show God’s compassionate love to those who are suffering and to defend life at all stages, Pope Francis said.

While progress has been made in treating patients, medical professionals always must “remember that healing means respecting the gift of life from the beginning to the end,” the pope said June 22 during a meeting with members of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations.

“We are not the owners: Life is entrusted to us and doctors are its servants,” he said. “Your mission is at the same time a witness of humanity, a privileged way of making people see, of making them feel that God our father takes care of every single person, without distinction.”

Members of the association were in Rome to celebrate the organization’s consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Noting that the first Christian communities presented Jesus as a physician, the pope said that Christ’s primary mission was to be close to the sick and the suffering, especially those “who were despised and marginalized” because of their conditions.

“In this way, Jesus breaks the judgment of condemnation that often labeled the sick person as a sinner,” he explained. “With this compassionate closeness, he manifests God the father’s infinite love for his most needy children.”

Jesus, he continued, would approach those suffering from illness and care for them “with sincere love” and heal not only their bodies, but also their hearts through the forgiveness of sins.

Christ would also share “a personal relationship that was rich, not mechanical, not at a distance” with those oppressed by both physical and spiritual illness, the pope added.

“You are called to encourage, to console, to raise, to give hope,” the pope told the physicians. “We cannot be cured and cure without hope; in this we are all in need and grateful to God, who gives us hope.”

The style of Catholic doctors, he said, must be one that “combines professionalism with the capacity for collaboration and ethical rigor” that benefits suffering patients.

“By continually renewing yourselves,” the pope said, “by drawing on the sources of the word of God and the sacraments, you will be able to carry out your mission well, and the Spirit will give you the gift of discernment to deal with delicate and complex situations, and to speak the right words in the right way and with the right silence at the right time.”

Pope Francis is pictured on the monitor of a video camera as he leads an audience with members of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations in the Sala Regia at the Vatican June 22, 2019. (Credit: CNS photo/Vatican Media.)


General indulgence for Jubilee 25th FIAMC Congress

“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 God’s Mercy.” –  about The Apostolic Penitentiary

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has granted a general indulgence of sins with a decree from the Apostolic Penitentiary, signed by the Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, on the occasion of the 25th Jubilee World Congress of the Catholic Physicians that will be held in Zagreb from 30th May to 2nd June 2018.

With the decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary No. 9/18/l, the participants of the 25th Jubilee World FIAMC (World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations) Congress under the title “Sanctity of Life and the Medical Profession, from Humanae Vitae to Laudato Si” may receive indulgence or the general indulgence if they

  • approach the sacrament of Confession,
  • approach Holy Communion, and
  • join praying for the Holly Father’s intention.

General indulgence is given to all Catholic participants of the Congress who have made sincere confession of sins and who are filled and lead by the Christian love. General indulgence may also be intended for the souls of faithful in the Purgatory.

It is valid for all faithful that will participate at the 25th Jubilee World Congress in Zagreb from 30th May to 2nd June 2018 entitled “Sanctity of Life and the Medical Profession, from Humanae Vitae to Laudato Si” and humbly pray to God for their own faithfulness to the Christian calling, an increase in Church vocations, more priests, and the protection of the family through the Virgin Mary’s invocation „Health of the Sick“.

Partial indulgence of sins is given to those members justifiably prevented from participating in the congressional work if they unite in fervent prayers with a humble and contrite heart.




‘The Church is for life’, Francis tells Catholic physicians

Vatican City, May 28, 2018 / 10:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Ideologies which do not acknowledge and uphold the dignity of human life must be resisted and the Catholic Church’s teaching on life affirmed, Pope Francis told a group of Catholic doctors Monday.

“The Church is for life, and her concern is that nothing is against life in the reality of a concrete existence, however weak or defenseless, even if not developed or not advanced,” the pope said May 28 in the Vatican’s papal hall.

He noted the “hardships and difficulties” physicians may face when they are faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, particularly when they promote and defend human life “from its conception to its natural end.”

“The tendency to debase the sick man as a machine to be repaired, without respect for moral principles, and to exploit the weakest by discarding what does not correspond to the ideology of efficiency and profit must be resisted.”

Pope Francis spoke with members of the International Federation of Associations of Catholic Physicians ahead of a congress on the theme of “Holiness of life and the medical profession, from Humanae vitae to Laudato si’” in Zagreb, Croatia May 30-June 2.

Addressing the group, he praised the fidelity of their associations to the directives of the Magisterium and encouraged them to “continue with serenity and determination on this path.”

To be a Catholic doctor means to feel driven by “faith and from communion with the Church” to grow in Christian and professional formation and to know the laws of nature in order “to better serve life,” he said, stressing that the participation of Catholic physicians in the life and mission of the Church is “so necessary.”

Francis noted that the health and medical fields are a part of the advance of the “technocratic cultural paradigm,” which adores human power without limits and makes everything irrelevant if it does not serve a person’s own interests.

“Be more and more aware that today it is necessary and urgent that the action of the Catholic physician presents itself with an unmistakable clarity on the level of personal and associative testimony,” he urged.

He also encouraged working together with professionals of other religious convictions who also recognize the dignity of the human person, and with priests and religious who work in the healthcare field.

Continue the journey “with joy and generosity,” he said, “in collaboration with all the people and institutions that share the love of life and endeavor to serve it in its dignity and sacredness.”



Pope asks doctors to intervene into debate about abortion, end of life and genetics

Pope Francis asked for a “more human” medicine before the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations. They met with the pope before traveling to Croatia. There they will have their next congress on “Sanctity Of Life and the Medical Profession from ‘Humanae Vitae’ to ‘Laudato si’.”

“Not even the fields of medicine and health, in fact, have been spared from the advancement of the technocratic cultural paradigm, from the adoration of limitless human power and from a practical relativism, where everything becomes irrelevant if it does not serve one’s own interests.”

Pope Francis asked for doctors not to forget that a patient is a human being. He told them not to get carried away by trends that only look at the expense of care, rather than healing people and defending life.

“We must go against the tendency that degrades sick person to a machine that needs to be repaired, without respect for moral principles. It is your responsibility to work in your respective countries and internationally, intervening in specialized environments and in debates concerning legislation on sensitive ethical issues, such as ending a pregnancy, the end of life and genetic medicine.”

The International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations is made up of more than 50 associations from 66 countries, mostly from Europe and Asia. Its objective is to prepare Catholic doctors to correctly deal with complex ethical cases.

It was instituted in France in 1884, in response to the message Leo XIII delivered in his encyclical Humanum Genus. In it, the pope condemned the philosophical and moral relativism proposed by Freemasonry.


Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to The World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to welcome you and I greet all of you, beginning with your President, Dr. John Lee, whom I thank for his kind words.

As Catholic physicians, you are committed to an ongoing spiritual, moral and bioethical formation that enables you to bring the values and principles of the Gospel to your practice of medicine, from the doctor-patient relationship to missionary activity aimed at improving health conditions among peoples living on the peripheries of our world. Your work is a particular form of human solidarity and Christian witness, and is enriched by the spirit of faith. It is important that your Associations be concerned to make medical students and young physicians aware of these principles by involving them in your various activities.

Your Catholic identity poses no obstacle to your cooperation with those who, whether from a different religious perspective or with no specific creed, acknowledge the dignity and grandeur of the human person as the criterion of their activity. The Church is committed to life, and to ensuring that nothing opposed to life be imposed on any person, however frail or defenceless, underdeveloped or challenged, he or she may be. To be a Catholic physician thus means being a health care professional who finds in personal faith and communion with the Church a source of inspiration to grow constantly in Christian living and professional expertise, in tireless devotion to others and in the desire to learn and understand the laws of nature in order to serve life ever more effectively (cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Humanae vitae, 24).

Everyone is aware of the fidelity and consistency with which the Associations of your Federation have, down the years, maintained their Catholic identity and followed the Church’s teaching and the directives of her Magisterium in the medical-moral field. This criterion of recognition and action has fostered your cooperation in the Church’s mission of promoting and defending human life from conception to its natural end, out of concern for the quality of life, respect for the weakest, the humanization of medicine and its full socialization.

This fidelity frequently entails hardships and difficulties that, in certain situations, call for great courage. I encourage you to persevere with serenity and conviction along this path, receiving the magisterial interventions in the areas of medicine with an awareness of their moral implications. For the fields of medicine and health care have not been immune to the advance of the technocratic cultural paradigm, the worship of unlimited human power and a practical relativism, wherein everything is considered irrelevant unless necessary for one’s personal interests (cf. Laudato Si’, 122).

In this context, you are called upon to affirm the centrality of the patient as a person, together with his or her dignity and inalienable rights, especially the right to life. The tendency to view the sick as machines to be repaired, without respect for moral principles, and to exploit the weakest by discarding what does not respond to the ideology of efficiency and profit, has to be resisted. The defence of the personal dimension of the patient is essential for the humanization of medicine, also in terms of “human ecology”. Make every effort, in your respective countries and on the international level, to speak out in specialized environments but also in debates about legislation dealing with sensitive ethical problems such as the termination of pregnancy, end-of-life issues and genetic medicine. Take care also to defend the freedom of conscience of physicians and of healthcare workers. It is not acceptable that your role should be reduced to that of a simple executor of the will of the patient or the requirements of the health-care system in which you work.

In your forthcoming Congress, to be held a few days from now in Zagreb, you will reflect upon the theme: “Sanctity of Life and the Medical Profession, from Humanae vitae to Laudato Si’”. This too is evidence of your participation in the Church’s life and mission. This participation – as the Second Vatican Council made clear – “is so necessary within the Church communities that without it the apostolate of the pastors will frequently be unable to obtain its full effect” (Apostolicam actuositatem, 10). Be ever more aware that today it is necessary and urgent that the activity of the Catholic physician be unmistakably evident on the level of both personal and group witness.

In this regard, it is desirable that the activities of Associations of Catholic doctors be interdisciplinary and involve other ecclesial realities. In particular, consider how to coordinate your efforts with those of priests, men and women religious, and all engaged in pastoral care of the sick. Join them in being close to people who suffer; they are in great need of your help. Be ministers not only of care but also of fraternal charity, helping those with whom you come in contact by your knowledge, your great humanity and your evangelical compassion.

Dear brothers and sisters, so many people look to you and your work. Your words, your actions, your advice and your decisions have an echo far beyond the strictly professional sector and become, if consistent, a witness of lived faith. Your profession thus rises to the dignity of a true apostolate. I encourage you to carry forward the efforts of your Associations with joy and generosity, in cooperation with all those individuals and institutions that share a love for life and endeavour to serve it in its dignity and sanctity. May the Virgin Mary, Salus Infirmorum, sustain your efforts, which I accompany with my blessing. And please, pray also for me. Thank you.


Speech of Dr. Ignatius Harjadi Widjaja at the AFCMA Banquet 2016

Program of the Banquet (Nov. 12)

(Program Director: Dr. Kano、Dr. Yayoi Takei)

18:00 Entrance

Table of Special Guests

Main Table-1:Dr. Lee、Dr. Widjaja、Dr. Lane、Dr. Loh、Dr. Hitomi、Dr. Shinozaki

Main Table-2:Dr. Isajiw、Fr. Gino、Dr. Blin、Dr. Shima、Me. Nishimura、Dr. Ishijima

(Other participants can sit at any other tables)

18:10   Opening : ( by Dr. Kano )

Congratulatory Speeches

1.Dr. John Lee (President of FIAMC)

2.Dr. Ignatius Harjadi Widjaja (President of AFCMA)

Toast: by Dr. Francois Blin (President of FECMA)

18:30 Starting Drinks and Dishes

18:45 Traditional music and dance of Kyoto

19:05 Some entertainments by attending members

19:55 Closing Remarks ( by Dr. Takei)

20:00 Closing of the Banquet

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, 

First of all, let us praise the Lord for imparting His wisdom to us throughout this congress. We also thank Him for it is because of His grace and blessings that we have completed this congress successfully. I believe all of you would agree that we have had an effective and fruitful meeting. Of course, this would not be possible without the hard work of the hosts. I would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank all the organizing committee and Japan Catholic Medical Association for hosting us in this Congress. Last but not least, I would like to sincerely express my greatest appreciation to all of you valuable AFCMA members and distinguished guests for putting your best effort in actively participating in this Congress.

In the last few days, we have had collegial discussions covering a wide range of topics relevant to our present situations. We have shared ideas and voiced our opinions in how to better shape our organization for the future. In my opinion, we have achieved a lot in this Congress. I have deep confidence in all of you that together we can fulfil the commitments and achieve the goals we have set in this meeting. I also genuinely hope that each of us participants would return to our home country strengthened by the support we have found in each other during this Congress. 

On this occasion, I would like to congratulate Dr. Manuel Po from Philippines for his election as the new president of AFCMA. I personally believe that the Holy Spirit has truly worked on us in choosing him as the next shepherd for this organization, and I have faith in him that he can lead us to a greener pasture. I would also announce that the other Exco Members elected in the meeting are :

Vice Presidents :

1. Dr Ma Hon Kwong (Taiwan)

2. Dr Anthonysami (Malaysia)

Secretary General : Dr. Juliana Debuque (Philippines)

Immediate Past President : Dr.Ignatius Harjadi Widjaja (Indonesia)

Honorary Treasurer : Dr. Ambrose Leung (Hongkong)

Bio-Ethic Committee : Dr Peter Auyeung (Hongkong)

Mission Committee :
Dr John Lee
Dr Lukas Yusuf (Indonesia)

AFCMA Representative fo FIAMC

  1. Dr Young Jin Ko (Korea)

  2. Dr Shigeyuki Kano (Japan)

Ecclesiastical Advisor : Rev. Hygino Henriques (Fr. Gino) (Singapore)

I would like to thank all of you AFCMA members who have put your trust in me to lead you in the last four years. Once again I would like to offer my deepest apologies if I am not able to fully accommodate all your needs as individual members of this organisation. I sincerely hope that our new leader Dr. Manuel Po and his staff can learn from my experiences and put more effort in improving communications between AFCMA members. 

Before ending my speech, I would like to make an important announcement. The AFCMA Executive Committee has decided that the 16th AFCMA Congress will be held in Malaysia Hopefully all of us can meet again together in that beautiful city. 

Finally, I would like to offer my most sincere prayers to all of us here present and to our sisters and brothers who are not able to attend this meeting, may we all continue to be great proclaimers of the Gospel, who live our Catholic values not just through our words but also through our actions in saving people’s lives. God bless us all.

Message of the AFCMA President at Exco Meeting 2016

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:

  1. We have provided financial assistance and organised fundraising events to assist the victims of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2012.
  2. 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.
  3. We successfully held the FIAMC Congress and its Executive Meeting in Manila in 2014.
  4. We successfully held the AFCMA Executive Meeting in Manila which aimed to improve communication between AFCMA members.
  5. 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.