On February 8th, St. Patrick's hosted, with the St. John Paul II Foundation, Archdiocese of San Francisco, and Catholic Medical Association, a Converging Roads health care ethics conference on the theme of Catholic Medicine in a Secular Society. The Converging Roads conference series offers continuing education for health care professionals that equips them to practice the highest ethical and medical standards of their profession.
A broad range of topics was covered, including Stem Cell Research & Use of Cell Lines Derived from Aborted Fetuses in Research by Rev. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, OP, PhD, STD, Spiritual Warfare & Dissociative Identity Disorder by Cynthia Hunt, MD, a panel on Post-Abortive Healing & Reversal of Chemical Abortions with George Delgado, MD, Cynthia Hunt, MD, and Rev. Vito Perrone, COSJ, and other interesting topics. Full details of the day's events can be found here.
Fr. Nicanor gave an in-depth discussion on the use of stem cells including those from embryonic lines. He spoke about some of the latest research in this area and also shared the levels of moral culpability in use of embryonic stem cells. He framed it with the analogy on whether or not a virtuous tourist can use Roman roads built by slaves. Is that a tacit approval of slavery? In short, it depends on the degree of cooperation with someone doing evil. Formal cooperation such as a boyfriend bringing a girlfriend to an abortion has a high degree of complicity – equally guilty of the immoral act. While material cooperation (i.e. does not intend for the immoral act to occur) depends upon how necessary the cooperation is for the act to occur (Immediate vs. Mediate) and does the contribution lead to the commission of the act (Proximate vs. Remote). If the material cooperation is immediate or proximate, then the person is guilty of the immoral act. Otherwise, the guilt may be mitigated or non-existent. For example, anyone using the discoveries from stem cell research may not be culpable of any evil done by the scientists...the virtuous tourist can walk the Roman road.
Dr. Cynthia Hunt presented a discussion on demonic oppression, obsession, infestation and possession, in the context of medical and mental health discernment. There are ‘open doors’ to demonic affliction which can include occult practices, habitual mortal sin, addiction, trauma, curses, generational sin, freemasonry and new age practices, among others. Some signs of possession include aversion to sacred objects and places, superhuman strength, knowledge of hidden things, and sudden comprehension of strange languages. Dr. Hunt emphasized that sometimes a person with demonic affliction can have both spiritual, medical and/or mental health issues. One needs to trust in Jesus as the Divine Physician who is the Healer of all illness.
There was also an interesting panel on RU-486 and the potential for reversal therapy. RU-486 the ‘abortion pill’, (not the ‘morning after pill’) consists of two doses: mifepristone (Mifeprex) and oral misoprostol (Cytotec). Mifepristone is a hormone which blocks progesterone, which keeps placenta attached to uterus. Without progesterone, placenta detaches and the baby dies. Misoprostol causes uterine contractions and forces the remains out. According to industry studies, 25% of the time the abortion does not occur. If intercepted in time, reversal therapy (which replenishes progesterone) can save the baby 67% of the time. Clearly, reversal therapy can be very effective and safe if administered in time.
One of our seminarians said of the conference, "[This] is not just a religious topic but a clinical-spiritual statement that proves that humans have an organic and biological side to be cured, but also a spiritual component that only God is able to heal through the Catholic Church - prayer, grace & sacraments - and also through us - compassion, care, and love."
See below for the slideshow (courtesy of our seminarian Derick Delgado).