The following interview comes from the Zenit news service. Written originally in Italian by H. Sergio Mora, it was translated by Oceane Le Gall into French and from French into English by Google Translator; I tweeked the final version.
ROME, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 (ZENIT.org) - Human embryo based cosmetics, rampant euthanasia that ever gradually instills itself by "way of omission," rather than by the rule of law, and the cultural tendency to consider the patient like an oil well: all of these topics solicit the attention of the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC).
And among all these questions, one must not be forgotten, that relating to the problems of life from conception, says the president of the FIAMC, Mr. Jose Maria Simon, to the readers of Zenit during a break at the meeting of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, the European Congress of Catholic Doctors (AMCI - FEAMC), the Italian Catholic Doctors Association (AMCI) and participants of the International Conference of Catholic hospitals, which took place last Saturday, November 17, in Paul VI Hall in the Vatican.
Zenit - Dr. Simon, first tell us what is the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations?
Jose Maria Simon - This is an old institution of Pontifical Law, that forms doctors on ethical issues, doctors as well as students and medical personnel. We also cooperate on issues related to maternity. Our work extends to the largest possible number of countries and international organizations, so that our Christian vision of medicine can be better understood and accepted.
Are there new challenges for today's medicine?
Yes, there are, but still around the same issues: not seeing his neighbor as a source of income; the defense of life from conception until natural death, and the transmission of life; respect for the dead or embryo death, which nonetheless still remains a symbol of the deceased and can not be used as we see fit.
What most worries Catholic doctors today?
To see embryonic tissue from fetuses used to make cosmetics, worries us considerably. This is a very serious thing, but that happens, and costs a lot to get evidence. When you accuse a company, it knows well how to defend itself, through lawyers and journalists. It is therefore very difficult to make specific charges; yet the facts are there, these worry us, and they must be fought.
Is there any real hope?
We expect a lot of this Charter for the medical profession, which for us is like a new Code of Ethics, the second version of which is in the process of being prepared by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care and the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The first was already rich in points, while the second will be updated to reflect medical changes.
We just talked about natural death and respect for life. What can you say about it?
There is first the problem of euthanasia which seems to be progressing, not so much in legislations but rather in practice. Currently, in many countries, we practice euthanasia by omission. Someone decides for you: family, an oncologist and so on, they determine that your life is over, it is not worth the trouble to live, so the person is sedated and dies.
So, death is induced?
Yes, and sometimes unnecessarily. It is important to understand that the mission of the physician is to eliminate the pain, the anguish, the suffering, and this must of course be done with all possible means, but without precipitating death, as it is very well stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, about euthanasia - prohibited is every action taken to avoid suffering, procures death.
Alas, this practice is gaining ground and progresses as the culture of death progresses in various areas: judicial, legislative, media, culture, including art, and so on ...
So the question is not only religious in nature?
There are many doctors in the world who respect human life, Catholic or otherwise, who need the support and arguments on which to build.
And where do we find these arguments?
We have a lot of resources on our website - links, public statements, taken from our conference where we work with scientific publications, present progresses, science, and social studies, and interface with the media.
With Catholic doctors, we pray. We provide an ecumenical space and ethical training in medical problems. Congresses are very useful, even the free time during which it is possible to consult a colleague so as to understand how thinking on a particular issue varies from one country to another.
How are aggressive therapies lived out today?
This is something that must be fought. Any medicine, whether offical or lay, Catholic or other churches agree that abuses exist. In fact, sometimes, certain diagnoses or therapies are disproportionate to the results that may be expected.
And what of the transmission of life?
We are worried about that too. The Encyclical Humanae Vitae presents a very good doctrine in the sense that it solves a lot of the problems. Who respects it, respects his wife, and is faithful, does not kill his children via abortion, does not beget them in vitro, but procreates them naturally, and respects the fact that the embryo may die naturally.
The Humanae Vitae is the way to go?
Absolutely, it is prophetic. It may be found on the FIAMC website. Also, we are currently preparing a second document which can help a Lutheran for example. I hope that next year, on the anniversary date of the propagation of the Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem, it is possible to spread this scientific paper that supports the encyclical.
What has the FIAMC brought to the synod?
FIAMC has received more than it has given. We were able to attend the meeting of the Synod of Bishops, speak with each as well as with auditors. We met with the Catholic Medical Associations of different countries and made ourselves known. Not to mention the honor of being in contact with the Holy Father. Yet what we mainly did at the Synod was pray and in itself this was very helpful.
About abortion, today there is a lot more information and matters are clearer, yet the practice is still widespread ...
Abortion is a topic that we studied extensively. Unfortunately when the devil enters something, it is difficult to resolve it by laws or arguments; we need help from on High.
Today science clearly shows that human life can be supressed...
Today more than ever we know that from the first moment of conception, the life is a separate being, distinct from father and mother, developing in a coordinated manner, progressive, who needs "fuel" and that implanting in the mother's womb, so as to take this fuel and grow to become one of us.
Concerning embryos, is there less public awareness ...
Yes, awareness is less, although we have a visible human form. I think conscience is hindered by evil.
The cryopreserved also have human form?
Genetically, they have a human form; their DNA says: this is a human being. Here, too, conscience is blinded by evil; everyone can understand that this embryo is a human being, microscopically.
In conclusion, what is key to properly treating a patient?
I believe that good professional competence consists much more in treating patients as brothers, as children, and parents, rather than as oil wells.