Vancouver archbishop: health care workers have ‘gr

“We must never allow ourselves to become marginalized because of our lack
of courage,” said the archbishop.

BY Rebecca Millette

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, February 16, 2011 ( – In a
homily during the White Mass for health care providers in January,
Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver warned health workers against
stooping “to a conspiracy of silence and complicity” where conscience
rights are subverted.

Archbishop Miller, one of Canada’s most outspokenly pro-life and
pro-family bishops, said that growing secularism in society poses a threat
to religion in the pubic sphere, particularly the realm of health care.
Health care professionals must be free to live out their faith in their
healing work, he said.

“This spiritually lethal secularism strives to confine the influence and
role of religious faith of all stripes to worship services, socially
acceptable charity, and works for justice. Obliging people of faith to keep
their opinions to themselves is … a thinly veiled way of curtailing the
freedom of expression of religious believers.”

The archbishop challenged health workers to resist such “attempts to
marginalize our faith” and to stand up as able Catholics in their
professions.  Faith, he said, though a personal matter, is not, and should
never be treated as, a private issue, regardless of the increased pressure
to assume that rights to medical care override respect for the provider’s

“The Church unequivocally teaches that a person ‘is not to be forced to
act in a manner contrary to his or her conscience. Nor, on the other hand,
is he or she to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience,
especially in matters religious’ (Vatican II),” said Archbishop Miller.

Quoting Vatican II, the archbishop emphasized that, as Catholic
professionals, health care workers have “a grave duty of conscience not to
cooperate in practices which, although permitted by civil legislation, are
contrary to the law of God.”  Further, he stated that “to refuse to
cooperate in evil actions is not only a duty, but also a fundamental human

“We must never allow ourselves to become marginalized because of our lack
of courage. We cannot stoop to a conspiracy of silence and complicity.”

The archbishop concluded, ”The Church’s vitality has often resulted from
persecution. Our day seems to be no exception. Are we, too, ready to give
our lives where it costs us the most, in our profession?”

The full-text of the homily may be read here.

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