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Catholic Medical Association


The Catholic Medical Association (CMA), formerly the National Federation of Catholic Physicians' Guilds, traces its genesis to a meeting of Catholic doctors in 1932 in New York City. The CMA, which underwent the name change in 1997, continues to be a national organization of Catholic physicians dedicated to upholding the principles of the Catholic faith and morality as related to the science and practice of medicine. It is also a member of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC). The CMA works closely with the Catholic Health Association, the Catholic Press Association, the National Council of Catholic Laity, and all National Right-to-Life groups. It supports all worthwhile medical mission programs, and is particularly supportive of the Mission Doctors Association, headquartered in Los Angeles, California. It frequently serves as a consultant for the USCCB Health Affairs Committee, as well as for local ordinaries.

The purposes of the Catholic Medical Association are (1) to uphold the principles of Catholic faith and morality as related to the science and practice of medicine;(2) to cooperate in leading the Christian community, especially with the particular medical expertise and experience of the Catholic physician, to understand, develop, and apply Christ's principles of faith and morality to modern medical science and practice; (3) to lead the Christian community in the work of communicating Catholic medica ethics to the medical profession and the community-at-large; (4) to uphold Catholic hospitals in the application of Catholic moral principles in medical practice; and (5) to enable Catholic physicians to know one another better and to work together with deeper mutual support and understanding.

Local chapters or guilds are urged to participate widely in parish and diocesan activitiessex education or awareness, natural family planning and pre-Cana programs, Birthright, pro-life activities, defense of the family and of marriage, and of chastity itself. The CMA collaborates with the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Boston, Massachusetts, which lends its doctrinal expertise on health-care issues and disseminates that information throughout the country in a monthly newsletter, Ethics and Medics, and a journal The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly.

Although CMA is not a policy-making body, it lends its name and professional standing to those issues that lie at the intersection of medicine and morals. It has adopted resolutions advocating universal HIV-testing for pregnant women (1996), non-cooperation in the production of vaccines derived from cells harvested from aborted fetuses (1996), condemnation of so-called "morning-after pills" (1998), encouragement of ethical medical school curricula related to terminal illness (1998), and a moratorium on any attempt to achieve human cloning in the laboratory (1998). Through all these resolutions is a tacit adherence to biblical and natural-law principles.

The CMA publishes the Linacre Quarterly, named for Thomas Linacre, a distinguished physician of the 16th century. A journal of the ethics and philosophy of medical practice in support of the magisterium, it serves the needs of the increasing number of physicians who have had minimal exposure to Catholic teaching and assists all readers through its medico-moral discussions.

Each local guild is autonomous. Efforts have been made to form independent guilds in each major hospital in some of the larger cities. Activities include retreats or a Mass, usually in connection with the feast of St. Luke, the CMA patron, on October 18, health care of religious, fostering Catholic medical student groups, and cooperating with local charity organizations in the care of the sick and the poor.

[w. a. lynch/

p. j. hayes]

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