HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

Cardinal Bernardin to Trump on Health and the Lost Children.

Posted on | August 31, 2018 | No Comments

Source: Wash Post 8/27/2018

For health professionals, committed to healing, providing health, and keeping families and communities whole, the many actions of President Trump are deeply offensive on multiple levels – but none more than the deliberate separation of immigrant children from their parents. According to the Washington Post, 528 children remain separated and 23 of these are under the age of 4. This affront to our humanity and our profession can not stand.

Cardinal Bernardin addressed a gathering of AMA members shortly before he died in 1996 and made the case that health was integral to human potential and that doctors and nurses and all health professionals played a pivotal role in assuring the survival of a caring society.

Were he alive today, he would not be silent in the face of this President and those in leadership who have gone invisible and mute in the face of a clear threat to our democracy and our humanity.

Bernardin’s guiding philosophy was a “consistent ethic of life.” In addressing health leaders, he said, “Because of its central importance to human dignity, I have felt a special responsibility to devote a considerable amount of attention to health care at both the local and national levels…grounded in the respect we owe the human person. To defend human life is to protect the human person … the core reality in Catholic moral thought.”

Bernardin would likely be especially offended by President Trump’s callousness and cavalier branding with insult and vulgar labels. Of this, he might repeat his words, “Attitude is the place to root an ethic of life…We cannot urge a compassionate society and vigorous public policy to protect the rights of the unborn and then argue that compassion and significant public programs on behalf of the needy undermine the moral fiber of the society or are beyond the proper scope of governmental responsibility.”

The images of children, forcibly separated from their desperate parents, would have been unthinkable to the Cardinal as he approached his death in Chicago two decades ago. “The dignity and value of human persons is a basic value …. [L]et it be said that the energizing vision of healthcare must be this commitment to the dignity of human persons.” Those were his words then.

How will each of us bear witness now?

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