12th Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners of Nigeria Annual Scientific conference and General Meetin

Dear President Dr Emmanuel,

On behalf of the international fraternity of Catholic physicians, I would like to congratulate ACMPN for organising the 12th Annual Scientific Conference cum General Meeting.

In this era of increasing secularization, the “Culture of Death” which our beloved St John Paul prophesied will afflict modern day society is gathering momentum. Africa cannot be insulated from this and the role of Catholic Doctors in defeating the well-organized well-funded anti-life forces is of paramount importance. The mark of a Catholic Doctor is the respect of the sanctity of life and every physician must be informed so that he can spread the Gospel of Life.

In promoting the “Gospel of Life”, there can be no finer example than Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, a Nigerian priest who was beatified by Pope John Paul II on the 22 March 1998. Saint Pope John Paul said, “Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi is a prime example of the fruits of holiness which have grown and matured in the Church in Nigeria since the Gospel was first preached in this land. He received the gift of faith through the efforts of the missionaries, and taking the Christian way of life as his own he made it truly African and Nigerian”. Fr Cyprian was unyielding in confronting vice among his flock for example towards the issue of pre-marital sex and abortion. I urge you, my brothers and sisters in Nigeria to pray for Blessed Cyprian’s intervention that you will continue to be able to practise medicine according to your informed conscience.

To remain relevant the Catholic Doctor must continuously educate himself on new issues like genetically modified foods. He should be aware of any ethical issues and give wise counsel consistent with the teaching of the Magisterium to the ecclesiastical authorities. Otherwise our credibility will be questioned for example when the Church authorities accused the government in Kenya of using HCG tainted Tetanus vaccine as a mass contraceptive program without any proof.

Led by the much respected and beloved Cardinal Arinze, Nigeria is probably the African country with the largest number of Catholics and priests. With due respect to the religious, the healing ministry of a Catholic doctor is closer to the work of Jesus than that of the priest for in many instances Christ was a healer of both the body and soul. The Catholic doctor follows the example of Christ, the divine physician by being the perfect mirror of God’s love.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy which ended in Nov 2016, was an invitation by the Holy Father to encounter love, kindness and unbounded generosity. Pope Francis is offering you the opportunity to experience the incredible mercy of God. Encountering mercy means encountering God. It can transform your life, your vocation as healthcare professionals and your ability to embrace life. The closing of the holy door in St Peter’s Basilica does not signify the end but is a clarion call to continue on your journey to develop a deeper love relationship with God not only as a Catholic doctor but also in every aspect of your life.

In the parable of the gold coins (Luke 19:11-27) Jesus warns us that we will be asked to give an account of what we did with the talents given to us. I urge you to use your God given talents to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. I am sure there are many amongst you who are already proclaiming the kingdom of heaven in the wonderful work you are doing. In particular I would like to thank Dr Henrietta Williams immediate past President of ACMPN for her leadership not only of Nigerian doctors but also as representative of the English-speaking nations in Africa and also Prof Michael Aruzu for inspiring the development of a strong and vibrant association of Catholic doctors and dental surgeons in Nigeria.

I would like to invite the Nigerian doctors to emulate the example of Dr Henrietta and Prof Aruzu not only in forming a national association of Catholic doctors and dental surgeons but also to spearhead the formation of a regional African federation.

In conclusion, I would like to invoke the blessings of Mary, Queen of Nigeria and St Patrick of Ireland on the people of Nigeria especially on the Catholic doctors and dental surgeons.

Yours in Christ,
John Lee, President, FIAMC