Prelate: Church and Healthcare a Good Team

Program Launched for Catholic Care Givers and Patients

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LONDON, MAY 29, 2007 (Zenit.org).- An initiative to support those who work in healthcare in England and Wales aims to offer practical information on caring for Catholics and promoting Catholic care.



The program, "Caring for the Catholic Patient," is sponsored by Catholics in Healthcare, a group backed by the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales, to help witness to the Catholic approach to healthcare.

Auxiliary Bishop Tom Williams of Liverpool and chair of the Catholics in Healthcare reference group said: "The Church has a hugely important role in healthcare. We are not trying to teach the healthcare system what to do, nor are we looking for a privileged position.

"We are trying to show that Catholics have a natural affinity with healthcare, and make a strong and supportive contribution as we continue to work in collaboration with the healthcare system."

People, not units

The "healthcare system, however well-intentioned, risks turning patients into units of care, while making the body an instrument to be treated," Bishop Williams added.

But, he said: "The Church witnesses to something more.

"We witness to the dignity of the whole person, loved and created by God as a spiritual and emotional, not just physical, being.

"This initiative is also about galvanizing Catholics who work in healthcare, promoting our vision of care for the whole person and sharing in Christ's healing ministry."

Patricia Hewitt, Britain's secretary of state for health, said she was pleased with the initiative.

"I read with interest the publications which provides a greater understanding of the role of not only Catholic chaplains but also hospital chaplaincy, in providing spiritual care for both patients and staff," she said.

Only 10% of the population of England and Wales is Catholic but the number is growing, largely due to demographic changes caused by immigration.