Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Sunday, June 24, 2018


CROMWELL – A group of Catholic medical professionals and others gathered recently at Holy Apostles College and Seminary to form a guild of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) in the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Membership is open to physicians and those with related health care interests throughout the state.

"What we hope to do is provide a distinctly Catholic voice in the medical community, including medical students, and reestablish a diocesan White Mass for physicians, hopefully in October," said Deacon Thomas J. Davis, one of the organizers. Deacon Davis is associate director of the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center at Holy Apostles and serves as a deacon at St. Ann Melkite Church in Danbury.

Dr. Judith Mascolo, who has a pro-life family practice in West Hartford and is affiliated with St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, was elected president of the guild, along with a slate of board members. A name being considered for the group is the Dr. Jerome Lejeune Guild, after the doctor who discovered the gene for Down syndrome.

"It’s important to give Catholic doctors in the state access to a professional organization that supports their beliefs and lets them know that they’re not alone," said Dr. Mascolo. "Plus, we need to educate ourselves and others about Catholic ethics, morals and principles on health care issues."

Among some of the issues she noted are health care reform; such reproductive technologies as embryonic implantation, abortion, contraception, and stem cell and cloning research; parental consent; end-of-life decisions; and euthanasia.

"It’s something I wish I had access to when I was a medical student," she said. "Many people, for example, are unaware that there’s a race on to see which research facility will be the first to clone the first human being."

Dr. Paul Mitchell, president of the medical staff at St. Francis Hospital and chairman and director of St. Francis’ department of dentistry, echoed her thoughts.

"Catholic physicians need to reinforce each other in their faith," said Dr. Mitchell, a dentist. "Because of the world at large, we’ve become more isolated. Faith is a part of us that’s immersed in everything we do, even our professional lives. Being part of an organization like CMA helps us reinforce our beliefs."

The guild was created with the blessing of Archbishop Henry J. Mansell. Father Michael G. Whyte, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish in Simsbury, will serve as chaplain of the guild.

Voting membership includes Catholic medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine, with associate membership open to dentists, podiatrists and those holding a doctoral degree in a health care-related field. Nurses, students, clergy, religious, seminarians and anyone interest in integrating Catholic principles into health care may join as affiliate members.

CMA serves to uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine, assist the Church in communicating Catholic medical ethics to the medical profession and local community, support Catholic hospitals in applying Catholic moral principles in health care delivery, and enable Catholic physicians to know one another better and to work together with deeper mutual support and understanding.

The CMA has its roots in the Catholic Physicians Guild, founded in Boston in 1912 to educate physicians about Church doctrine related to the practice of medicine. By 1932, it had expanded into the National Federation of Catholic Physicians Guilds (NFCPG), with the first "White Mass" – so named for the white coats of physicians – celebrated on the Feast of Saint Luke, who was a doctor.

The CMA is the largest association of Catholic physicians in North America, with 51 local guilds and 42 in formation. Information about it is available by calling Dr. Mascolo at (860) 233-4600 or going online to www.cathmed.org.