Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 68(2) May 2018

Men and Women of Conscience: Reporting the Catholics in Healthcare Conference at Tyburn

semper idemOn the 10th March the CMA hosted a day conference for young healthcare professionals at Tyburn Convent. The conference started with Mass in the extraordinary form, complete with Gregorian chant, a wonderful opportunity to expose young professionals to a beautiful celebration of the Mass they may seldom have encoun- tered in their own parishes.

In the first talk of the conference, one of the Tyburn nuns reminded us of the historical precedents of conscientious objection in a fascinating and moving account of the lives of the Tyburn martyrs. Her talk was a reminder of three important facts: Firstly, whilst we may feel challenged at times, our lives are not literally on the line; Secondly, the battle has already been won, just as the blood of the martyrs is now glorified, so will our small battles give way to glory in the future; Lastly, we have the prayers of so many religious (and lay) people around the world to support us in our endeav- ours to do what is right.

The ensuing discussion on conscience was thus set up in the context of eternity and placed us in a humbling lineage of figures now gone before us, who had remained true to their convictions to the last - the martyrs of course, but also more contemporary figures such as Dr Jerome Lejeune who fought so voraciously to defend the rights of people with Down’s Syndrome. The two talks on conscience, delivered by Dr Joseph Shaw from the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and Mr John Smeaton from SPUC provided us with a thorough philosophical grounding and practical grounding in the nature of conscience within the healthcare setting, both what it is, and perhaps more importantly, what it isn’t. The day ended with a panel discussion enabling the attendees to enquire about some of the practicalities raised by the talks and so engage directly with the speakers. The Q&A session also provided the opportunity for various professionals from the floor to offer their insights, demonstrating the diverse range of knowledge and experience present at such a meeting.

Overall, the day was a great success and it was a real privilege to listen to such fantastic speakers in such a beautiful and apt venue.

Many thanks to the Tyburn nuns for their hospitality and prayers. They are, of course, assured of ours. Many thanks also to the CMA for organising such a stimulating conference!

Tyburn is the site where many of the English Martyrs were executed. The convent now situated there has had perpetual adoration for over a century. It is just beside Hyde Park  and it is very  well  worth visiting and praying there.