Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 72 (4) November 2022

Our 100th Birthday

In 1914 a first edition of "The Gazette" was published by the Guild of St Luke, Cosmas and Damian[1]. A second edition of the Gazette (which was published in March 1921) has, sadly, been lost. In January 1923 the first edition of the Catholic Medical Guardian was published. Published every quarter the Catholic Medical Guardian was closed down because of the war at the end of 1941. After a 6 year gap, publication restarted in October 1947 as the Catholic Medical Quarterly. The journal has appeared every quarter since then. That has not been without difficulty. In 1959 a double issue was produced. The Editor had struggled, got behind and was producing issues about 4 months late! Having caught up the CMQ, has been produced four time as year ever since.

So what on earth does the CMQ exist for? Well the 1914 edition of the Gazettem stated clearly what the Editor then thought it was for. He said "The position which THE GAZETTE aims at fulfilling is unique. Its subject matter stands on the field intermediate between the various branches of Science included in Medicine and those of Theology, Philosophy, and Sociology, all of which are already amply covered by special publications, but between which no common ground of expression at present exists. It is not proposed to limit the contents to the writings of our own members, but to include articles by others having special knowledge of particular subjects which are of interest to us. Our readers are therefore begged to enlist such writers to supply us with contributions for publication which may serve the purpose which we have set out to attain."

What is remarkable is that that is such an accurate description of what we think we do now as well. The CMQ always was able to call on a broader resource than CMA members alone. And it always has sought to combine the scientific, with the doctrinal and the spiritual. In a century of huge social change and with over 10 million abortions in the UK alone, that voice has been a heroic and a difficult one to express. The Church in general, and doctors and nurses in particular 'have been heavily criticised when they have stood up for the Church's message on human life and medical ethics.

We are hoping, soon, to make available an electronic archive of the last 100 years of our Quarterly journals. I have had the huge privilege of looking through those journals. They are such an extraordinarily rich source of thought and science. So many developments are covered. What is really remarkable though, is the consistency of the Church in general, and our authors specifically. There is 100 years of consistently standing up for the unborn, the disabled, the disadvantaged and those in need. And that has resulted in opposition to euthanasia, sterilisation, forced sterilisation, abortion and a consistent focus upon medical ethics and excellent, compassionate care etc. Perhaps most of all, the Church struggled to express her teaching and vision of family life after Humanae Vitae. But if you read the CMQs from the 1950's it is very clear that the Church faced a tsunami of pressure to change, as a result of the contraceptive pill. That little steroid hormone was astonishingly popular with women and it was really hard to speak up for marriage in that context. The history of medical ethics is "writ large" on those pages.

Interspersed among all that we find an extraordinary article by "Dr IM Truth". This article entitled "The German Concentration Camp" was smuggled out of Germany in 1939 and is a first hand account of what it was like to be in a concentration camp surrounded by death, starvation and atrocities. And it was published before the war started [2]. Whoever Dr Truth actually was, his article is both horrifying and utterly fascinating. It teaches us much about the cruelty of men towards fellow men. A 1941 article discusses "Life or death for the Church in Germany" [3]. In that article we read that National Socialism was in a "Total war" with Catholicism. In the same issue are articles "The priest and psychotherapy" and "The War in Poland" . In 1929 we find an article that describes Heavy bombardment of a large City. experience from Barcelona [4]. And more describe the Soviet health system and the social work of the Church in pre-war Germany. There is such a richness of it all.

The Archive of the CMQ and CMA is now in Ushaw College Library. We shall doubtless republish some articles in future editions.

And, happily, we are preparing an electronic archive which will make the CMQ archive far more available to more people. Please God, many a thesis and dissertation on bioethics will be able to dip into it.

We are missing six editions of the Guardian. If anyone has the 1921 copy of the Gazette, or the first two (January and April 1923) editions of the Catholic Medical Guardians,
If you have any old editions of the Catholic Medical Guardian, please let us know.


  1. Guild of St Luke, St Cosmas and St Damian. THE GAZETTE A Catholic Medical Journal. No.1,1914.
  2. Dr IM Truth. The German Concentration Camp. Volume. Catholic Medical Guardian, 17 (2) October 1939.
  3. Margaret Adamson. Life or death for the Church in Germany. Catholic Medical Guardian Volume 18 (1) January 1941 pp16-22.
  4. J. TRUETA RASPALL The Functioning of First-Aid Services during the Heavy Bombardment of Cities, according to Experience gained in Barcelona. Catholic Medical Guardian, Vo116 (6) April 1929.