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Catholicism and healthcare: 5 key principles


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Miriam Diez Bosch - published on 06/05/19

In a political policy mess, it's helpful to have some basic bullet points.

There are five key points for Catholic discussions of health and health care.

This summary is outlined by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

1. Put the dignity of the human person at the center.

2. Adopt a holistic vision of health: the unity of body, soul, and mind.

3. The healthcare system should give priority to the sick, according to the principles of the Gospel.

4. Do not forget the figure of Jesus Christ, who gave great importance to the healing of diseases.

5. Lastly, when faith is authentic, it helps give hope to those who are suffering.


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The cardinal offered these five points in a talk earlier this year, while greeting the members of the assembly of SOMOS Community Care, a New York organization that offers medical services to the most vulnerable inhabitants of the city in their own languages (including Spanish and Chinese), especially in the neighborhoods of the Bronx, Harlem, and Queens, thus creating a bond with the local community and bringing medicine to the people.

This perspective, offered by Cardinal Dolan, can be held in common with people who come from other religions or values, as was pointed out by Ramon Tallaj, founder of SOMOS Community Care.

The cardinal insisted urgently on the hospitality and attentive care that doctors are called to offer all patients at their clinics. He reminded the assembly that the human person is not just a body, but also mind and soul.

For the cardinal, the image of Jesus Christ curing the sick is one of the most powerful and recurrent images in the Gospel, and he explained that, from a Catholic perspective, hope is of radical importance.

The vitality of the Catholic health care ministry in New York is strong despite changes in programs and in hospitals, and the cardinal was clearly hopeful, encouraging those involved in this pastoral ministry to accompany those most in need, the most vulnerable, providing not only health care but also the necessary human and spiritual companionship.

A Catholic hospital isn’t just any clinic, he emphasized. For doctors and nurses, the patients are above all human persons, and every human person, rich or poor, has dignity.

Cardinal Dolan insisted on this point, reiterating that every human person has dignity, and that the Church in its healthcare ministry promotes care and attention for every individual.

For his part, Mario Perez, the CEO of SOMOS, thanked the cardinal for his work, and in particular for his interest in the most vulnerable groups in that city and archdiocese, New York, in which these people are numerous and lack support networks.

The Archdiocese of New York, in its pastoral program, gives importance to caring for the sick, based on fundamental principles including hospitality, kindness, justice, charity, inclusion, integrity, and respect.

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