By Dennis Kellogg, director of communications
LINCOLN (SNR) – Bishop James Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln is part of a new initiative focused on renewing Catholic health care in harmony with the healing ministry of Christ and His Church.
Bishop Conley is serving as chair of the Episcopal Advisory Board of the Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance (CHCLA).
The CHCLA aims to provide a united voice for Catholic health care in America. The organization’s statement of purpose points out “today the practice of Christ-centered medicine is under severe assault by secular and materialistic ideals that challenge the foundational Christian principles of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.” The statement adds, “Without a fundamental change in the underlying principles and policies that drive the current secular health system, Catholics, Christians, and millions of others who value truth, life, and freedom will be increasingly marginalized. They will be constantly on the defensive in trying to cope with notions of health care which contradict both good morals and good medicine.”
Bishop Conley has served as the national episcopal advisor to the Catholic Medical Association since 2014. He said the new Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance came from a couple of years of prayer and a lot of discussions about the current state of health care in our country.
“I’ve always thought, especially as a bishop, our Lord primarily was a teacher and a healer,” Bishop Conley said. “Education and health care are at the very center of the ministry of Jesus Christ and His Church. And so, since I’ve been with the Catholic Medical Association, I’ve seen how important it is for the Church to be very involved in health care and for Christ to be at the center of health care. Health care delivery has to be something that’s Christ-centered and Christ-motivated.”
The core principles of the CHCLA include evangelization, education, advocacy and mutual support. The Alliance’s president, Dr. Steven White, said the effort was launched earlier this year during the annual March for Life in January. It includes the backing of the Catholic Medical Association, the Catholic Bar Association, the Catholic Benefits Association, the Christ Medicus Foundation, the National Catholic Bioethics Center and the Franciscan Health Alliance. The Episcopal Advisory Board led by Bishop Conley provides support and guidance for the new organization.
“Building a coalition of Catholic leaders and organizations with expertise in all facets of medical care and health care delivery including – medicine, law, bioethics and theology, administration, financing, pastoral care, health care policy and politics – will enable the CHCLA to promote the truth of the Catholic Faith as it relates to both the science and practice of medicine,” Dr. White said.
Bishop Conley said the new coalition will be “sort of a one-stop shop for bishops, but also for anybody in health care who’s looking to understand the ethical side of health care, the business side, the legal side, the political side, all these sides.” He added it will be “a unified voice, a think tank, a place where people can go to make their way through this huge area we call Catholic health care systems.”
The CHCLA held a series of talks at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, launching the Symposium for the Advancement of Catholic Health Care Nov. 12. The Symposium is a three-year initiative devoted to preparing a vision for the future of Catholic health care. Bishop Conley gave an address on the bishops’ role in Catholic health care.
Bishop Conley said the secularization of the world in which we live is the biggest threat to health care.
“As John Paul II would say, the culture of death. Whether it be abortion, euthanasia, and everything in between, those are all threats to health care.” He said it’s important “to see the person in front of you, the patient, the person who’s sick, as an image of Christ. To see the face of Christ in every person who comes in need of healing, and we’re all in need of healing.”
Bishop Conley encouraged health professionals to recognize that all are hurting and let the Church be the guide to the necessary healing. “See with the eyes of Christ and with the lens of the Church. Her whole body of teaching about the nature of the human person, the dignity, the rights of the human person, reproductive health, all that kind of thing, from the lens of the Church.”
WATCH the Register’s interview with Bishop Conley on the Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance on our YouTube channel.