The Catholic Medical Association is one example of an association of medical professionals united for the purpose of upholding the common good in the provision of healthcare in America. However, we cannot accomplish our mission in isolation. We have long recognized our goals will not be achieved without further collaboration with organizations whose expertise is essential to effective reform and delivery of medical care in the Catholic tradition. This requirement for communal cooperation is founded upon a fundamental truth of our Faith – Man is made in the image of God (cf Genesis 1:27).

In the document Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God published in 2004 by the International Theological Commission and approved by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, we learn that, “Persons created in the image of God are bodily beings whose identity…orders them to a special kind of communion with one another…The human being is truly human to the extent that he actualizes the essentially social element in his constitution as a person within familial, religious, civil, professional, and other groups that together form the surrounding society to which he belongs” (#40-42).

It is upon this Christian understanding of the anthropology of man as a person made in the image of God and called to live in communion with others that the Church bases her social teaching. It “proposes principles for reflection, criteria for judgment and guidelines for action” to assist humanity in dealing with the social, political and economic challenges inherent in upholding the common good of all.

Beginning with Pope Leo XIII’s foundational social encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891, the Church has emphasized the importance of cooperation and collaboration to promote justice and peace in upholding the common good. Pope Leo affirmed that serious social problems “could be solved only by cooperation between all forces” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #90).

Forty years later Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno — his social encyclical celebrating the anniversary of Rerum Novarum — confirmed the necessity for freedom to form associations based upon the principles of solidarity and cooperation to find solutions for social controversies and uphold the common good (Compendium #91).

And, finally, on the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum, Pope Saint John Paul in Centesimus Annus again affirmed the importance of “disciplined work in close collaboration with others that makes possible the creation of ever more working communities which can be relied upon to transform man’s natural and human environments” (CA #32).

This issue of The Pulse of Catholic Medicine highlights the work of several associations with whom we have had the joy and privilege of collaborating in our continuing effort to reestablish a culture of life in our profession. They include the Galen Institute, the Christian Medical and Dental Association, the Christ Medicus Foundation and the Catholic Benefits Association.

The mission of the Catholic Medical Association requires that we continue to develop these relationships and identify new opportunities to work together with those who share our commitment to uphold the principles that underpin authentic Catholic healthcare — the sanctity of life, the dignity of the human person, subsidiarity, solidarity and the common good.

I hope that reading this issue will inspire every CMA member to look for opportunities to collaborate as we strive to live the truth in love in our medical vocation (Eph 4:10-16). It is inherent in our being as persons made in the image of God and as medical professionals called to serve God in ministry to the sick, to unite as the Body of Christ, restoring His light and love to the vocation of medicine.

Dr. Steven White is the chair of CMA’s Health Care Policy Committee.