Medicine at the Service of Marriage and Family: Transforming the Culture with Love and Truth

(SEPTEMBER 7-9, 2017)

“As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the world in which we live.” This prophetic quote from Pope St. John Paul II sets the theme for the Catholic Medical Association’s 2017 Annual Education Conference. In answering the call to the vocation of medicine, physicians and other health care professionals have the privilege and responsibility of caring for fellow human beings in various stages of illness and health. However, patients are not merely “broken bodies” in need of fixing. Catholic medical professionals recognize each person as, “made in the image of God,” with an immortal soul that animates the body and makes visible God’s real presence in the world. Catholic medicine guides those in the healing professions in restoring the integrity of the body and soul to allow individuals to fulfill their God-given vocation.

Often overlooked in our care for the patient is their relationship with spouse, family, and friends. Patients are simultaneously individuals and in relationship: son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, father, and friend. No relationship is more fundamental to the health of individuals and society than that of marriage and family. Described by Pope St. John Paul II as, “The School of Love,” family is where individuals learn to express and receive love of God and neighbor. As the fundamental “cell of society,” families educate, nurture, support, and socialize individuals for engaging the larger society.

When medicine is at the service of the patient AND their marriages and families, we medical professionals nurture these schools of love, these cells of society, and these domestic churches. The Catholic Church’s teachings on marriage and family are a reliable guide to all medical professionals in fulfilling this high calling. When these teachings are combined with the science and practice of medicine, those in the healing professions can change the family, the nation, and the world in which we live.

The 2017 Conference has been dedicated to the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, because we look to them as encouragement in our Catholic Faith. The Holy family was brought together by God Himself Who unified them in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Family prayed together and practiced charity towards each other to demonstrate their extraordinary love in the family unit. We all know about the breakdown of the family in modern society and realize that our divided world desperately needs the Catholic example of family life. Jesus, Mary, and
Joseph are our models for all virtues, especially humility, obedience, and chastity.