I'm attending the Catholic Medical Association's 81st educational conference in St. Paul, Minn. To say that the issues of conscience rights and the Health and Human Service's mandate are on the minds of the physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and medical students would be an understatement. The sense of concern and anxiety among the attendees is palpable.
The organizers expected 400 attendees. More than 600 showed up, as well approximately 67 medical students. The topics being discussed in the sessions and being talked about between sessions have concentrated on the attacks on Catholic medical professionals and their practice. The conference has featured an all-star line-up of speakers who are explaining to the members how we find ourselves in the cultural battle we're engaged in, how to bear witness to the truth and bring it to bear on the practice of medicine.
Papal biographer George Weigel spoke on the crisis of modernity, author Brian Gail spoke about the life sciences challenges facing us, First Things editor Russell Reno spoke about bringing faith into the public square, and Father Robert Spitzer presented ways to use the new media for evangelization.
"The Catholic Church stands in the way of the sexual revolution - efforts to redefine marriage, access to abortion and reproductive technology, and mercy killings," said Russell Reno, editor of First Things. "Our increasingly aggressive adversaries will continue to use their political muscle to push us out of the way."
“These are critical times," Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa told me. "Whether or not a physician is practicing in line with the teachings of the Church, they're going to be forced to do something they may not want to do."
"This is a clarion call for America," added Bishop Vasa. "American Catholics, and in particular American Catholic physicians have to wake up to the fact that they can no longer presume that their individual choices about how they practice medicine in this country will be respected."