Putting faith into practice is St. Luke Guild conference theme

The St. Luke Guild of East Tennessee and the Diocese of Knoxville’s Office of Health Services sponsored a conference for medical professionals on Sept. 20 that dealt with putting faith into practice as it relates to medical science.

Dr. John M. Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, delivered the keynote talk at the conference, attended by nearly 50 people from across the diocese. The conference was held at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Lenoir City.

Also addressing the conference was Dr. Gail-Marie Walter, a family practice physician with Summit Medical Group.

Bishop Richard F. Stika celebrated a White Mass for the medical group as part of the conference.

Dr. Haas discussed the challenges involved in finding balance between science and technology and the protection of life.

Dr. Haas asked what is seen as the greatest threat or challenge in bioethics, such as cloning, destruction of embryos in in vitro fertilization, stem cell research, or the sale of human organs?

“It is the dehumanizing of the person, the human being,” he said. “Principles don’t matter if the other is not seen as a person.”

Dr. Haas pointed out that as scientific breakthroughs occur, there is a greater temptation to manipulate the science while sacrificing the protection and dignity of life, especially of the weak and vulnerable.

He cited as a recent example a young Thai woman who was paid to be a surrogate mother for a couple. When the baby was born with birth defects, the couple refused to take the baby.

“We’re faced with grave challenges from the dehumanizing of the human being,” he said as he praised the Catholic Church’s stance on social issues that protect life.

He then quoted Pope Benedict XVI in saying  “The Catholic Church is the sole surviving coherent institutional voice of morality in a world under the tyranny of relativism.”

The St. Luke Guild and Office of Health Services are directed by Sister Mariana Koonce, RSM, who also is a physician.