Catholic Health Care Ministry
Initially, almost all health care in Canada was provided by the churches. Many of the health care facilities begun by religious orders still exist, now within a new context of public institutions and funding. As much as ever, the hallmarks of faith-based care are central to our ministry of healing.
The following is an executive summary of a Pastoral Letter by the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. It defines the guiding principles of the Catholic health ministry on which St. Paul's Hospital bases its mission, vision, and core values.
From the early days of this country, countless women and men have devoted their entire lives to caring for the sick and they left a powerful legacy of Catholic health ministry. All Catholics must now preserve, build upon, and keep in trust this legacy for future generations.
Unlike perhaps in the past, caring for the sick can no longer simply be the work of a dedicated few individuals; it must now become the concern and preoccupation of every Christian and the entire Christian community.
The vision and guiding principles of Catholic health ministry
Second, like Jesus, the healing ministry of the Church is aimed at the health and well-being of the whole person: physical, spiritual, mental, emotional and even social.
Third, the ministry of health and healing is an unmistakable sign that the Reign of God is close at hand, present in the very midst of our wounded and vulnerable humanity.
Fourth, the healing ministry keeps every Christian in close touch with the deep mystery of suffering. In the presence of this mystery, every Christian is invited to become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.
Fifth, there is a spiritual affinity between prayer and healing. Praying for those who are sick or suffering goes to the very heart of the healing ministry and thus to the heart of every Christian.
Sixth, yet another essential feature of the healing and caring ministry of the Church is a deep and uncompromising respect for human life - from its very conception to its natural death - and an equally deep reverence for the dignity of every person.
Seventh, the Church's ministry of healing goes beyond the health care of individuals as such; it extends to the physical and social environment in which people live and work. This means that every Christian is called upon to be an advocate of justice and to help redress those unjust social structures that cause suffering to the disadvantaged groups in society.
Eighth, compassionate generosity is also an important dimension of the Church's far-reaching ministry of healing. Christians are expected to give generously whenever people in distant lands suffer some unspeakable natural disaster, a tragic pandemic infection, or a severe human deprivation. Charity begins at home, but it must never stop there!
Today's new challenges for Catholic health care services
Canadian Catholic health care faces issues of sustainability, identity, leadership, financial constraints, government health care reforms, and the demand for increased accountability all present new challenges.
Catholic professional care-givers can and must make a difference in these changing times. Their voice, their presence, their excellence and faith-driven leadership are all crucial at this critical juncture.
The increasing role of the laity
A faith-driven mission
In close partnership with others