CNA Staff, Jul 17, 2020 / 06:29 pm (CNA).- In a time of significant social and civil upheaval due to a pandemic, civil unrest over racial inequality, and legal threats to religious freedom, a group of Catholic health care workers are offering a virtual conference on the future of Catholic health care in the United States.
“The COVID pandemic has imposed a heavy burden of suffering throughout the world,” Dr. Steven White of the Catholic Medical Association said in a statement.
“If we embrace this cross with faith and hope in God’s mercy, his grace will enable us to bring physical and spiritual healing and renewal.”
The conference, which is entitled “A Cause for Hope: Catholic Health Care and Religious Freedom in the Face of Crisis,” will be held online on Saturday, July 18 beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern. It is hosted by the Catholic Medical Association and the Christ Medicus Foundation, and will include speakers from both organizations as well as MyCatholicDoctor and the Catholic Benefits Association. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, will also be a featured speaker.
The goal of the conference is to share a vision for the future of Catholic healthcare, including mental and physical health, as well as a plan for the protection of the religious freedom of Catholics practicing and receiving that care.
Louis Brown, executive director of the Christ Medicus Foundation, noted that while the coronavirus pandemic is to be taken seriously, it must not become an opportunity to threaten religious freedom.
The pandemic has shown that “state and local officials in parts of the country are willing to use a serious public health crisis to unlawfully infringe on religious freedom,” Brown said. While most places of worship closed voluntarily in March during the most stringent parts of the coronavirus lockdown, some experienced discriminatory treatment in the reopening phases.
“This is all happening within the backdrop of a serious political push by anti-life and anti-religious freedom forces to use this public health crisis, the tragic murder of Mr. Floyd, and the recent social unrest to advance a culture of death,” Brown said.
“This conference will chart a way forward that will protect the health and dignity of all Americans, robustly defend religious freedom in health care, and unleash a new birth of civil rights in health care and beyond.”
Conference topics will include maintaining spiritual peace and mental health during challenging times; coronavirus therapies, vaccines, and their ethical issues; religious freedom and conscience protections in light of recent Supreme Court decisions; and a Catholic response to racial disparities in health care, among others.
Jordan Buzza with Christ Medicus Foundation said that the conference will be key to understanding the various issues the Catholic Church currently faces in health care, and added that it is a continuation of an ongoing conversation among Catholic healthcare groups in the U.S.
“We think this conference is paramount, because it will help us to come together and understand the breadth of the challenges but also the opportunities for success and growth as we seek to build up Catholic health care and a culture of life,” Buzza said.
Registration for the conference can be found at: christmedicus.org/digital-conference/