OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Health services and conscientious objection: Memorandum of understanding between the Archdiocese of Rabaul and the Province

Friday, 27 September 2019


Rabaul (Agenzia Fides) – To collaborate in the field of health care, in a fruitful cooperation between public structures and private structures, managed by Catholic bodies and congregations, also regulating the service of Catholic doctors and nurses in state hospitals: as reported in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, is the objective with which the provincial health authority of New East Britain and the Archdiocese of Rabaul have signed a "Memorandum of understanding" in which criteria are defined to coordinate basic health care services as well as promotion activities and health education for the entire population.
As stressed in the note sent to Fides, the Archbishop of Rabaul, Mgr. Francesco Panfilo, SDB wanted to clarify the role of Catholic doctors, nurses and health workers in St. Mary's Hospital and in the nine public health facilities in the Province of New East Britain.
The Archbishop was inspired by some episodes of violation of the policies and identity of the Catholic schools on the island: "Just like with teachers, when a nurse applies for a job in a health center belonging to a religious organization, he/she agrees to respect the philosophy and identity of the organization", said the Archbishop. "Countering this requirement would destroy the identity of the same structure and force doctors and nurses to act against their Christian conscience", he says.
"To avoid any possible misunderstanding - the note reads - the Archdiocese included, in the Memorandum of Understanding, the 'conscience clause' which provides that Catholic Healthcare Facilities offer non-profit health care, based on faith, in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church. In particular the clause concerns abortion, certain methods of family planning, such as surgical sterilization, contraceptive drugs", all medical practices that Catholic structures will not be able to provide.
"Therefore - continues the note signed by the Archbishop - the Catholic personnel and structures will not promote or distribute artificial contraceptive or surgical means of any kind, nor will they allow government agencies and NGOs to benefit from the staff and Catholic health facilities. The Catholic Church also does not share euthanasia and assisted suicide, practices that are gaining ground in some parts of the world.
Mgr. Panfilo: "The task that awaits you is not simple. Continue to work hard to improve the health care you provide and please do not be discouraged when you encounter difficulties of any kind. Trust the Spirit of the Lord". (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 27/9/2019)