Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 68(3) August 2018

Building a Culture of Life!

semper idemSemper Idem is the newsletter of the Catholic Medical Association’s Committee for the New Evangelization.The Committee for the New Evangelization aims to support young Catholics in healthcare. Semper Idem is one way in which we hope to do this.


The Editor writes:

Our Catholic Faith, or rather a caricature of it, has been given much airtime in the past few months. Recently there was the case of Alfie Evans. Meanwhile in Ireland the abortion referendum was voted in with a clear majority. All of this was playing out against the backdrop of talk in the Vatican about priestly celibacy, sexual issues in the preparatory document for the upcoming Youth Synod and a kerfufiie regarding Holy Communion for divorced Catholics and Protestants in Germany.

However, despite all the negative news, on the Feast of St Joseph 2018 a very exciting thing happened in the life of the Church in England and Wales: having been suppressed at the Reformation almost 500 years ago, the Conventual Franciscans returned to Walsingham to be chaplains to the National Shrine of Our Lady [1]. The Conventual Franciscans have recently re-established friaries in Oxford and Aberdeen, and now they have had the vision to accept an invitation to care for the pilgrims visiting Walsingham. The date of the return of the Franciscans is significant: St Joseph is the father of the New Evangelization. This New Evangelization is close to the hearts of the Conventual Franciscans of the Province of Great Britain and Ireland.

At our recent pro-life youth conference at Tyburn Convent (see the report by a young medical student in this issue), we heard from Mother Thomasina, a Tyburn Benedictine nun, about the sacrifice of religious, such as the Conventual Franciscans, during the Reformation. At that time all 60 of the Conventual Franciscan friaries were closed. It would have seemed unbelievable then that in 2018, a convent on the site of the Tyburn gallows would be thriving, and Conventual friaries would be reopening. (As well as the Conventuals’ new friaries, in the last few years the Immaculate Franciscans opened their friary in Gosport and then set up Radio Immaculata, at the invitation of Bishop Egan.)

It is Pope John Paul II who popularized the term ‘New Evangelization’. He also did the same with the term ‘culture of life’ (contrasting it against the ‘culture of death’) in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae in April 1995 [2]. However, it has always been the teaching of the Church that each human being has a soul and has an inherent dignity and worth regardless of his/her perceived useful­ness to society.

There are two Ways: one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the two Ways... The Didache – 1st Century AD

This is the reason why the Catholic Church is the largest charity in the world, and more relevant to our readers, the largest non-governmental provider of health care services in the world [3]. As Catholic health­care workers we are at the forefront of this clash. We have a responsibility to see as God sees, and to treat every human being with love and respect, especially those rejected or deemed useless by society.

It is not always easy to go against the tide and to fight for those who have given up hope, or to love the unlovable. However, the role of the Church is to trans­form culture, and not the other way round. So we should endeavour to build a culture of life! In this edition of Semper Idem, a Catholic priest gives his experience of bringing the culture of life and love into the hospital by bringing a message of hope to the dying.

The Committee for the New Evangelisation have been organising conferences for young people in healthcare in order to inform and to provide support, and to try to build a culture of life and love. Our third annual CMA youth conference will be focused on building a culture of life. (For more details please see the advert in this issue of Semper Idem). We are delighted that at this event we will host a newly ordained Conventual Franciscan from the new Walsingham friary to speak about the New Evangelization, as well as talks on the culture of life. We hope to see you there!