In February of last year, Bishop Robert Vasa, Coadjutor of the Diocese of Santa Rose in California, addressed faithful Catholics at a White Mass sponsored by the Kansas City chapter of the Catholic Medical Association. His message was about medical ethics. Catholic Internet media approved and channeled it uncritically to their readers, most of whom—judging from the comments—found it edifying.
Here is some of what Bishop Vasa said:
In those instances where faith and reason seem to be in conflict then, provided you truly know your faith, you will become convinced that it is reason and not faith which is involved in error.
In our subjectivist, relativistic age which often masquerades as an age of pure reason it is tempting to put a lot more faith in science and reason than it is to put faith in God. Yet, both are acts of faith and both are directed toward a perceived god. For much of our society that god is science or government or technology. For us there is a greater God and a greater good.
We are repeatedly challenged to decide if we are people of science or people of faith. In truth, we must always be both. In those instances where faith and science agree there is no moral or ethical conflict. In those instances where science or the usual practice of medicine conflicts with faith, or conflicts with the moral code of our Church, we must be men and women of faith.
The Catholic Medical Association, which sponsored the mass, is very clear about its priorities. Its mission statement says, “The Catholic Medical Association [CMA] is dedicated to upholding the principles of the Catholic Faith as related to the practice of medicine…” One might have expected something more like, “The CMA is dedicated to providing superior medical care and advancing the scientific understanding of disease.”
Here is the CMA’s statement about homosexuality:
CMA supports the teachings of the Catholic Church as laid out in the revised version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in particular the teachings on sexuality: “… tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered… Under no circumstance can they be approved.” (CCC, n.2333)”
The CMA’s position on homosexuality and its support of the so-called “reparative therapies” is diametrically at variance with that of the World Health Organization, which has stated the following:
- “Conversion” or “reparative” therapies and the clinics offering them should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions.
- Public institutions responsible for training health professionals should include courses on human sexuality and sexual health in their curricula, with a focus on respect for diversity and the elimination of attitudes of pathologization, rejection, and hate toward non-heterosexual persons.
- Professional associations should disseminate documents and resolutions by national and international institutions and agencies that call for the de-psychopathologization of sexual diversity and the prevention of interventions aimed at changing sexual orientation.
Any Catholic doctor or medical institution that is guided by the values and ethics of the Catholic Medical Association should take heed. Any person who subjects him- or herself to treatment by such a doctor or institution should be wary.