Medicine: restorative or transformative? The mission of the Christian physician

Prof. Gabriella Gambino delivers Card. Kevin Farrell's address to the XXXVI FIAMC Congress


From September 15-17, 2022, the XXVIth Congress of FIAMC (International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations) took place in Rome at the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum. Experts and professionals gathered to discuss the theme Medicine: restorative or transformative? The mission of the Christian physician.

Professor Gabriella Gambino, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, spoke, delivering the welcoming address of His Eminence Card. Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the same Dicastery.

In his address, the Prefect aimed at emphasizing how, in addition to proper scientific training, a «constant ethical tension, aimed at humanizing care and monitoring patients' welfare," is equally necessary. Catholic physicians are in fact called, as baptized lay people, to "a work of evangelization in a form of its own, (...) characterized by bonding, (...) by the ability to grasp the dignity of the person over and above his/her unfortunate condition whilst caring about his/her well-being and recovery».

He then mentioned how current and important the matter that the Congress had as its theme. Asking ourselves «about the purposes and limits of medicine [is useful] for becoming aware of a fundamental dimension of the person, which is its finite aspect and which is primarily manifested in illness and death. These are (...) experiences connatural to human existence that (...) must be included in a broader perspective of meaning».

In fact, there is the recurring thought that «the temptation to overcome the limits of humanity through the use of drugs and surgeries, in pursuit of health understood as 'perfect well-being' and a generally unlimited longevity.» «Rejecting fragility and limitations, as well as biotechnological research aimed at artificially overcoming the human condition of finitude, represent an illusion of power and reveal great inner fragility.»

Even in the educational context, she went on to emphasize the Prefect's speech with a remark aimed at the youth, the experiences of limitation and error have a high pedagogical value. In concluding her speech, she thanked Catholic physicians for their generous commitment to delving into these issues in the light of a broader perspective, the properly anthropological one, without neglecting the social and ecclesial dimension of the service that, as physicians, they render to humanity every day.

24 September 2022