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Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...

Catholic Church
is the largest non-government provider of
health care Health care or healthcare is the improvement of health via the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, amelioration or cure A cure is a substance or procedure that ends a medical condition, such as a medication, a surgery, surgical operation, ...

health care
services in the world. It has around 18,000 clinics, 16,000 homes for the elderly and those with special needs, and 5,500 hospitals, with 65 percent of them located in developing countries.Calderisi, Robert. ''Earthly Mission - The Catholic Church and World Development''; TJ International Ltd; 2013; p.40 In 2010, the Church's Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers said that the Church manages 26% of the world's health care facilities. The Church's involvement in health care has ancient origins.
Jesus Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth (among other Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament, names and titles), was ...

Jesus Christ
, whom the Church holds as its founder, instructed his followers to heal the sick. The early Christians were noted for tending the sick and infirm, and Christian emphasis on practical charity gave rise to the development of systematic
nursing Nursing is a profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life (healthcare), quality of life. Nurses may be diffe ...

nursing
and hospitals. The influential Benedictine rule holds that "the care of the sick is to be placed above and before every other duty, as if indeed Christ were being directly served by waiting on them". During the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
, monasteries and convents were the key medical centres of Europe and the Church developed an early version of a welfare state. Cathedral schools evolved into a well integrated network of
medieval universities A medieval university was a Corporation#History, corporation organized during the Middle Ages for the purposes of higher education. The first Western European institutions generally considered to be University, universities were established in ...
and Catholic scientists (many of them clergymen) made a number of important discoveries which aided the development of modern science and
medicine Medicine is the science and Praxis (process), practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment, Palliative care, palliation of their injury or disease, and Health promotion ...
.
Albert the Great Albertus Magnus (c. 1200 – 15 November 1280), also known as Saint Albert the Great or Albert of Cologne, was a German Dominican friar A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century ...
(1206–1280) was a pioneer of biological field research and is a
saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, likeness, or closeness to God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of ...
within the Catholic Church;
Desiderius Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (; ; English: Erasmus of Rotterdam or Erasmus;''Erasmus'' was his baptismal name, given after St. Erasmus, St. Erasmus of Formiae. ''Desiderius'' was an adopted additional name, which he used from 1496. The ''Rote ...
(1466-1536) helped revive knowledge of
ancient Greek medicine Ancient Greek medicine was a compilation of theories and practices that were constantly expanding through new ideologies and trials. Many components were considered in Ancient Greece, ancient Greek medicine, intertwining the spiritual with the ph ...
, Renaissance popes were often patrons of the study of anatomy, and Catholic artists such as
Michelangelo Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (; 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), known as Michelangelo (), was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance. Born in the Republic of Florence, his work was insp ...
advanced knowledge of the field through sketching cadavers. The Jesuit
Athanasius Kircher Athanasius Kircher (2 May 1602 – 27 November 1680) was a German Jesuit scholar and polymath who published around 40 major works, most notably in the fields of comparative religion, geology, and medicine Medicine is the science an ...
(1602 – 1680) first proposed that living beings enter and exist in the blood (a precursor of germ theory). The Augustinian
Gregor Mendel Gregor Johann Mendel, Augustinians, OSA (; cs, Řehoř Jan Mendel; 20 July 1822 – 6 January 1884) was a biologist, meteorologist, mathematician, Augustinians, Augustinian friar and abbot of St Thomas's Abbey, Brno, St. Thomas' Abbey in Br ...
(1822-1884) developed theories on
genetics Genetics is the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.Hartl D, Jones E (2005) It is an important branch in biology because heredity is vital to organisms' evolution. Gregor Mendel, a Moravian Augustinians, Augustinian fr ...
for the first time. As Catholicism became a global religion, the Catholic orders and religious and lay people established health care centres around the world. Women's religious institutes such as the Sisters of Charity,
Sisters of Mercy The Sisters of Mercy is a religious institute of Catholic Church, Catholic Woman, women founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland, by Catherine McAuley. As of 2019, the institute had about 6200 Religious sister, sisters worldwide, organized into a num ...
and Sisters of St Francis opened and operated some of the first modern general hospitals. While the prioritization of charity and healing by early Christians created the hospital, their spiritual emphasis tended to imply "the subordination of medicine to religion and doctor to priest". " ysic and faith", wrote historian of medicine
Roy Porter Roy Sydney Porter, FBA (31 December 1946 – 3 March 2002) was a British historian known for his work on the history of medicine The history of medicine is both a study of medicine throughout history as well as a multidisciplinary field of ...
"while generally complementary... sometimes tangled in border disputes." Similarly in modern times, the moral stance of the Church against contraception and abortion has been a source of controversy. The Church, while being a major provider of health care to HIV AIDS sufferers, and of orphanages for unwanted children, has been criticised for opposing condom use. Due to Catholics' belief in the sanctity of life from conception, IVF, which leads to the destruction of many embryos, surrogacy, which relies on IVF, and embryonic stem-cell research, which necessitates the destruction of embryos, are among other areas of controversy for the Church in the provision of health care.


Theological basis: ''euntes docete et curate infirmos''

Catholic social teaching Catholic social teaching, commonly abbreviated CST, is an area of Catholic doctrine concerning matters of human dignity and the common good in society. The ideas address oppression, the role of the state (polity), state, subsidiarity, social o ...
urges concern for the sick.
Jesus Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth (among other Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament, names and titles), was ...

Jesus Christ
, whom the church holds as its founder, placed a particular emphasis on care for the sick and outcast, such as lepers. According to the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...
, he and his Apostles went about curing the sick and anointing of the sick.Geoffrey Blainey; A Short History of Christianity; Penguin Viking; 2011 According to the Parable of
the Sheep and the Goats The Sheep and the Goats or "the Judgement of the Nations" is a pronouncement of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus recorded in Matthew 25, chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew, although unlike most parables it does not purport to relate a story of event ...
, which is found in
Matthew 25 Matthew 25, the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, continues the Olivet Discourse or "Little Apocalypse" spoken by Jesus Christ (title), Christ, also described as the Eschatology, Eschatological Discourse, which had started in Matthe ...
, Jesus identified so strongly with the sick and afflicted that he equated serving them with serving him: In a 2013 presentation to its twenty-seventh international conference in 2013, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers,
Zygmunt Zimowski Zygmunt Zimowski (7 April 1949 – 13 July 2016) was a Polish prelate A prelate () is a high-ranking member of the Minister (Christianity), Christian clergy who is an Ordinary (church officer), ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordin ...
, said that "The Church, adhering to the mandate of Jesus, 'Euntes docete et curate infirmos' (Mt 10:6-8, Go, preach and heal the sick), during the course of her history, which by now has lasted two millennia, has always attended to the sick and the suffering." In orations such as his ''
Sermon on the Mount The Sermon on the Mount (anglicized from the Matthean Vulgate Latin section title: ) is a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth found in the Gospel of Matthew (chapters Matthew 5, 5, Matthew 6, 6, and Matthew 7, 7). ...
'' and stories such as the ''
Parable of the Good Samaritan The parable of the Good Samaritan is Parables of Jesus, told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. It is about a traveler (implicitly understood to be Jewish) who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. First, a Kohen, ...
'', Jesus called on followers to worship God (Rpm 12:1-2) through care for our neighbor: the sick, hungry and poor. Such teachings formed the foundation of Catholic Church involvement in hospitals and health care. According to Dr.
James Joseph Walsh James Joseph Walsh (1865–1942) was an American physician and author. Biography Walsh was born in City of New York, New York City. He graduated from Fordham University, Fordham College in 1884 (PhD, 1892) and from the University of Pennsyl ...
, writing in the ''Catholic Encyclopedia'': The Benedictine rule, which led the profusion of medieval hospitals founded by the Church, requires that "the care of the sick is to be placed above and before every other duty, as if indeed Christ were being directly served by waiting on them".


History


Antiquity

Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
and
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
medicine developed solid foundations over seven centuries, creating, Porter wrote, "the ideal of a union of science, philosophy and practical medicine in the learned physician...". But Greek and Roman religion did not preach of a duty to tend to the sick.
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...
emerged into this world as a Jewish sect in the mid-1st century and early Christians from the outset went about tending the sick and infirm. Their priests were often also physicians. St
Luke the Evangelist Luke the Evangelist (Latin: ''Lucas (given name), Lucas''; grc, Λουκᾶς, ''Loukas, Loukâs''; he, לוקאס, ''Lūqās''; arc, /ܠܘܩܐ לוקא, ''Lūqā’; Geʽez, Ge'ez: ሉቃስ'') is one of the Four Evangelists—the four tra ...
, credited as one of the authors of The New Testament, was a physician. Christian emphasis on practical charity was to give rise to the development of systematic nursing and hospitals after the end of the persecution of the early church. The early Christian outlook on sickness drew on various traditions, including Eastern asceticism and Jewish healing traditions, while the New Testament wrote of Jesus and his Apostles as healers. Porter wrote: "While suffering and disease could appear as chastisement of the wicked or a trial of those the Lord loved, the Church also developed a healing mission". Pagan religions seldom offered help to the sick, but the early Christians were willing to nurse the sick and take food to them. Notably during the smallpox epidemic of AD 165–180 and the measles outbreak of around AD 250, "In nursing the sick and dying, regardless of religion, the Christians won friends and sympathisers", wrote historian
Geoffrey Blainey Geoffrey Norman Blainey (born 11 March 1930) is an Australian historian, academic, best selling author and commentator. He is noted for having written authoritative texts on the economic and social history of Australia, including ''The Tyranny ...
. Hospitality was considered an obligation of Christian charity and bishops' houses and the valetudinaria of wealthier Christians were used to tend the sick. Deacons were assigned the task of distributing alms, and in Rome by 250 AD the Church had developed an extensive charitable outreach, with wealthy converts supporting the poor. It is believed that the first church hospitals were constructed in the East, and only later in the Latin West. An early hospital may have been built at Constantinople during the age of Constantine by St. Zoticus. St. Basil built a famous hospital at Cæsarea in
Cappadocia Cappadocia or Capadocia (; tr, Kapadokya), is a historical region in Central Anatolia Region, Central Anatolia, Turkey. It largely is in the provinces Nevşehir Province, Nevşehir, Kayseri Province, Kayseri, Aksaray Province, Aksaray, Kırşe ...
which "had the dimensions of a city". In the West,
Saint Fabiola Fabiola was a nurse (physician) and Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the ...
founded a hospital at Rome around 400.
Saint Jerome Jerome (; la, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Christian presbyter, priest, Confessor of the Faith, confessor, th ...
wrote that Fabiola founded a hospital and "assembled all the sick from the streets and highways" and "personally tended the unhappy and impoverished victims of hunger and disease... washed the pus from sores that others could not even behold" Several early Christian healers are honoured as Saints in the Catholic tradition.
Cosmas and Damian Cosmas and Damian ( ar, قُزما ودميان, translit=Qozma wa Demyaan; grc-gre, Κοσμᾶς καὶ Δαμιανός, translit=Kosmás kai Damianós; la, Cosmas et Damianus; AD) were two Arabs, Arab physicians in the town Cyrrhus, and ...
, brothers from Cilicia in Asia Minor, supplanted the pagan
Asclepius Asclepius (; grc-gre, Ἀσκληπιός ''Asklēpiós'' ; la, Aesculapius) is a hero and god of medicine in ancient Religion in ancient Greece, Greek religion and Greek mythology, mythology. He is the son of Apollo and Coronis (lover of ...
as the patron saints of medicine and were celebrated for their healing powers.." Said to have lived in the late Third Century AD and to have performed a miraculous first leg transplant on a patient, and later martyred under the Emperor Diocletian, Cosmos and Damian appear in the heraldry of barber-surgeon companies.." Notable contributors to the medical sciences of those early centuries include
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christianity, early Christian author from Roman Carthage, Carthage in the Africa (Roman province), Roman province of Africa. He was th ...
(born A.D. 160),
Clement of Alexandria Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria ( grc , Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; – ), was a Christian theology, Christian theologian and philosopher who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Among his pu ...
,
Lactantius Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (c. 250 – c. 325) was an early Christian Early Christianity (up to the First Council of Nicaea in 325) Spread of Christianity, spread from the Levant, across the Roman Empire, and beyond. Originally, th ...
and the learned St.
Isidore of Seville Isidore of Seville ( la, Isidorus Hispalensis; c. 560 – 4 April 636) was a Spanish people, Spanish scholar, theologian, and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seville, archbishop of Seville. He is widely regarded, in the words of 19th-cen ...
(d. 636). St.
Benedict of Nursia Benedict of Nursia ( la, Benedictus Nursiae; it, Benedetto da Norcia; 2 March AD 480 – 21 March AD 548) was an Italian Christian monk, writer, and theologian who is venerated in the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also kno ...
(480) emphasised medicine as an aid to the provision of hospitality. The martyr
Saint Pantaleon Saint Pantaleon ( el, Παντελεήμων, russian: Пантелеи́мон, translit=Panteleímon; "all-compassionate"), counted in the West among the late-medieval Fourteen Holy Helpers and in the East as one of the Holy Unmercenary Heale ...
was said to be physician to the Emperor Galerius, who sentenced him to death for his Christianity. Since the Middle Ages, Pantaleon has been considered a patron saint of physicians and midwives. The administration of the Eastern and Western Roman Empires split and the demise of the Western Empire by the sixth century was accompanied by a series of violent invasions, and precipitated the collapse of cities and civic institutions of learning, along with their links to the learning of classical Greece and Rome. For the next thousand years, medical knowledge would change very little.." A scholarly medical tradition maintained itself in the more stable East, but in the West, scholarship virtually disappeared outside of the Church, where monks were aware of a dwindling range of medical texts.." The legacy of this early period was, in the words of Porter, that "Christianity planted the hospital: the well-endowed establishments of the Levant and the scattered houses of the West shared a common religious ethos of charity.".


Middle Ages

Geoffrey Blainey Geoffrey Norman Blainey (born 11 March 1930) is an Australian historian, academic, best selling author and commentator. He is noted for having written authoritative texts on the economic and social history of Australia, including ''The Tyranny ...
likened the Catholic Church in its activities during the Middle Ages to an early version of a welfare state: "It conducted hospitals for the old and orphanages for the young; hospices for the sick of all ages; places for the lepers; and hostels or inns where pilgrims could buy a cheap bed and meal". It supplied food to the population during famine and distributed food to the poor. This welfare system the church funded through collecting taxes on a large scale and possessing large farmlands and estates. It was common for monks and clerics to practice medicine and medical students in northern European universities often took minor Holy orders. Mediaeval hospitals had a strongly Christian ethos and were, in the words of historian of medicine
Roy Porter Roy Sydney Porter, FBA (31 December 1946 – 3 March 2002) was a British historian known for his work on the history of medicine The history of medicine is both a study of medicine throughout history as well as a multidisciplinary field of ...
, "religious foundations through and through"; Ecclesiastical regulations were passed to govern medicine, partly to prevent clergymen profiting from medicine. After a period of decline, the Holy Roman Emperor Charlamagne had decreed that a hospital should be attached to each cathedral and monastery. Following his death, the hospitals again declined, but by the tenth century monasteries were the leading providers of hospital work – among them the Benedictine
Abbey of Cluny Cluny Abbey (; , formerly also ''Cluni'' or ''Clugny''; ) is a former Order of Saint Benedict, Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was dedicated to Saint Peter. The abbey was constructed in the Romanesque architectural st ...
. Charlemagne's decree required each monastery and Cathedral chapter to establish a school and in these schools medicine was commonly taught. Gerbert of Aurillac (c. 946 – 12 May 1003), known to history as
Pope Sylvester II Pope Sylvester II ( – 12 May 1003), originally known as Gerbert of Aurillac, was a French-born scholar and teacher who served as the bishop of Rome and ruled the Papal States from 999 to his death. He endorsed and promoted study of Arab and Gre ...
, taught medicine at one such school. Petrus of Spain (1210-1277) was a physician who wrote the popular ''Treasury of the Poor'' medical text and became
Pope John XXI Pope John XXI ( la, Ioannes XXI;  – 20 May 1277), born Pedro Julião ( la, Petrus Iulianus), was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 8 September 1276 to his death on 20 May 1277. Apart from Pope Damasus I, Damas ...
in 1276. Other famous physicians and medical researchers of the Middle Ages include the Abbot of Monte Cassino Bertharius, the Abbot of Reichenau
Walafrid Strabo Walafrid, alternatively spelt Walahfrid, nicknamed Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. The father of Pompey was called "Pompeius S ...
, the Abbess St
Hildegard of Bingen Hildegard of Bingen (german: Hildegard von Bingen; la, Hildegardis Bingensis; 17 September 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard and the Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German Benedictine abbess and polymath active as a writer, composer, philosopher ...
and the Bishop of Rennes Marbodus of Angers. Monasteries of this era were diligent in the study of medicine, and often too were convents. Hildegard of Bingen, a
doctor of the church Doctor of the Church (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) aro ...
, is among the most distinguished of Medieval Catholic women scientists. Other than theological works, Hildegard also wrote ''Physica,'' a text on the natural sciences, as well as ''Causae et Curae''. Hildegard was well known for her healing powers involving practical application of tinctures, herbs, and precious stones. In keeping with the Benedictine rule that the care of the sick be placed above all other duties, monasteries were the key medical care providers prior to 1300. Most monasteries offered shelter for pilgrims and an infirmary for sick monks, while separate hospitals were founded for the public. The Benedictine order was noted for setting up hospitals and infirmaries in their monasteries, growing medical herbs and becoming the chief medical care givers of their districts. The Capuchin monks sought a revival of the ideals of
Francis of Assisi Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, better known as Saint Francis of Assisi ( it, Francesco d'Assisi; – 3 October 1226), was a Mysticism, mystic Italian Catholic Church, Catholic friar, founder of the Franciscans, and one of the most vener ...
, offering care after plague struck at Camerino in 1523. Healing shrines were established and different saints came to be invoked for every body part in the hope of miraculous cures. Some of the shrines remain to the present day, and were in the Middle Ages great centres for pilgrims, complete with relics and souvenirs. St Luke or St Michael were invoked for various ailments, and a host of saints for individuals conditions, including St Roch as a protector against plague. St Roch is venerated as one who provided care to plague suffers, only to fall sick himself and be "healed by an angel". Through the devastating
Bubonic Plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of Plague (disease), plague caused by the plague Bacteria, bacterium (''Yersinia pestis''). One to seven days after exposure to the bacteria, flu-like symptoms develop. These symptoms include fever, headac ...
, the Franciscans were notable for tending the sick. The apparent impotence of medical knowledge against the disease prompted critical examination. Medical scientists came to divide among anti-
Galen Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 – c. AD 216), often Anglicization, Anglicized as Galen () or Galen of Pergamon, was a Ancient Greeks, Greek physician, surgeon and Philosophy, philosopher i ...
ists, anti-Arabists and positive Hippocratics. Crusader orders established several new traditions of Catholic medical care. The famous
Knights Hospitaller The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem ( la, Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller (), was a medieval and early modern Catholic Church, Catholic Military ord ...
arose as a group of individuals associated with an Amalfitan hospital in Jerusalem, which was built to provide care for poor, sick or injured pilgrims to the Holy Land. Following the capture of the city by Crusaders, the order became a military as well as infirmarian order. The Knights of St John of Jerusalem were later known as the
Knights of Malta The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta ( it, Sovrano Militare Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme, di Rodi e di Malta; ...
. The
Knights Templar The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon ( la, Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), also known as the Order of Solomon's Temple, the Knights Templar, or simply the Templars, was a Catholic military order, o ...
and
Teutonic Knights The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, commonly known as the Teutonic Order, is a religious order (Catholic), Catholic religious institution founded as a military order (religious society), military society in ...
established hospitals around the Mediterranean and through Germanic lands. Non-military orders of brothers also took up the service of the infirm. By the 15th century, the brothers of the
Order of the Holy Spirit The Order of the Holy Spirit (french: Ordre du Saint-Esprit; sometimes translated into English as the Order of the Holy Ghost), is a French order of chivalry founded by Henry III of France in 1578. Today, it is a dynastic order under the House of ...
were providing care across Europe, and by the sixteenth century the Spanish-founded Order of St John of God had set up about 200 hospitals in the Americas. In Catholic Spain amidst the early
Reconquista The ' (Spanish language, Spanish, Portuguese language, Portuguese and Galician language, Galician for "reconquest") is a Historiography, historiographical construction describing the 781-year period in the history of the Iberian Peninsula be ...
, Archbishop Raimund founded an institution for translations, which employed a number of Jewish translators to communicate the works of Arabian medicine. Influenced by the rediscovery of Aristotelian thought, churchmen like the Dominican Albert Magnus and the Franciscan
Roger Bacon Roger Bacon (; la, Rogerus or ', also '' Rogerus''; ), also known by the Scholastic accolades, scholastic accolade ''Doctor Mirabilis'', was a medieval England, medieval English philosopher and Franciscans, Franciscan friar who placed consid ...
made significant advances in the observation of nature. Small hospitals for pilgrims sprung up in the West during the early Middle Ages, but by the latter part of the period had grown more substantial, with hospitals founded for lepers, pilgrims, the sick, aged and poor. Milan, Siena, Paris and Florence had numerous and large hospitals. "Within hospitals walls", wrote Porter, "the Christian ethos was all pervasive". From just 12 beds in 1288, the Sta Maria Nuova in Florence "gradually expanded by 1500 to a medical staff of ten doctors, a pharmacist, and several assistants, including female surgeons", and was boasted of as the "first hospital among Christians". Clergy were active at the School of Salerno, the oldest medical school in Western Europe – among the important churchmen to teach there were Alpuhans, later (1058–85) Archbishop of Salerno, and the influential Constantine of Carthage, a monk who produced superior translations of
Hippocrates Hippocrates of Kos (; grc-gre, Ἱπποκράτης ὁ Κῷος, Hippokrátēs ho Kôios; ), also known as Hippocrates II, was a Greek physician of the Classical Greece, classical period who is considered one of the most outstanding figures ...
and investigated Arab literature. Cathedral schools began in the Early Middle Ages as centers of advanced education, some of them ultimately evolving into
medieval universities A medieval university was a Corporation#History, corporation organized during the Middle Ages for the purposes of higher education. The first Western European institutions generally considered to be University, universities were established in ...
. The medieval universities of Western Christendom were well-integrated across all of Western Europe, encouraged freedom of enquiry and produced a great variety of fine scholars and natural philosophers, including
Robert Grosseteste Robert Grosseteste, ', ', or ') or the frenchification, gallicised Robert Grosstête ( ; la, Robertus Grossetesta or '). Also known as Robert of Lincoln ( la, Robertus Lincolniensis, ', &c.) or Rupert of Lincoln ( la, Rubertus Lincolniensis, &c ...
of the
University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the List of oldest universit ...
, an early expositor of a systematic method of scientific experimentation, and Saint
Albert the Great Albertus Magnus (c. 1200 – 15 November 1280), also known as Saint Albert the Great or Albert of Cologne, was a German Dominican friar A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century ...
, a pioneer of biological field research. Porter wrote that, "The great age of hospital building from around 1200 coincided with the flourishing of universities in Italy, Spain, France and England, sustained by the new wealth of the
High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the periodization, period of European history that lasted from AD 1000 to 1300. The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and were followed by the Late Middle Ages, which ended ...
. ... The Universities extended the work of Salerno in medical education".


Renaissance

From the 14th century, the European Renaissance saw a revival of interest in Classical learning in Western Europe, coupled with and fuelled by the spread of new inventions like the printing press. The
Fall of Constantinople The Fall of Constantinople, also known as the Conquest of Constantinople, was the capture of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire by the Ottoman Empire. The city fell on 29 May 1453 as part of the culmination of a 53-day siege w ...
brought refugee scholars from the Greek East to the West. The Catholic scholar
Desiderius Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (; ; English: Erasmus of Rotterdam or Erasmus;''Erasmus'' was his baptismal name, given after St. Erasmus, St. Erasmus of Formiae. ''Desiderius'' was an adopted additional name, which he used from 1496. The ''Rote ...
(1466-1536) was interested in medicine and influential in reviving Greek as a language of learning, and the study of the pre-Christian works of
Galen Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 – c. AD 216), often Anglicization, Anglicized as Galen () or Galen of Pergamon, was a Ancient Greeks, Greek physician, surgeon and Philosophy, philosopher i ...
. Roy Porter wrote that "after centuries where the Church had taught mankind to renounce worldly goods, for the sake of eternity, Renaissance man showed an insatiable curiosity for the materiality of the here and now...". In
Renaissance Italy The Italian Renaissance ( it, Rinascimento ) was a period in History of Italy, Italian history covering the 15th and 16th centuries. The period is known for the initial development of the broader Renaissance culture that spread across Europe an ...
, the Popes were often patrons of the study of anatomy and Catholic artists such as Michelangelo advanced knowledge of the field through such studies as sketching cadavers to improve his portraits of the crucifixion. It is often wrongly asserted that the papacy banned dissection during the period, though in fact the directive of
Pope Sixtus IV Pope Sixtus IV ( it, Sisto IV: 21 July 1414 – 12 August 1484), born Francesco della Rovere, was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations b ...
of 1482 to the
University of Tübingen The University of Tübingen, officially the Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen (german: Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen; la, Universitas Eberhardina Carolina), is a public university, public research university located in the city of T ...
said that the Church had no objection to anatomy studies, provided the bodies belonged to an executed criminal, and was given a religious burial once examinations were completed.


Development of modern medicine

In modern times, the Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of health care in the world. Catholic religious have been responsible for founding and running networks of hospitals across the world where medical research continues to be advanced. In 2013, Robert Calderisi wrote that the Catholic Church has around 18,000 clinics, 16,000 homes for the elderly and those with special needs, and 5,500 hospitals – with 65 per cent of them located in developing countries.


Europe

Catholic scientists in Europe (many of them clergymen) made a number of important discoveries which aided the development of modern science and medicine. Catholic women were also among the first female professors of medicine, as with Trotula of Salerno the 11th century physician and Dorotea Bucca who held a chair of medicine and philosophy at the
University of Bologna The University of Bologna ( it, Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, UNIBO) is a Public university, public research university in Bologna, Italy. Founded in 1088 by an organised guild of students (''studiorum''), it is the List of old ...
. The Jesuit order, created during the Reformation, contributed a number of distinguished medical scientists. In the field of bacteriology it was the Jesuit
Athanasius Kircher Athanasius Kircher (2 May 1602 – 27 November 1680) was a German Jesuit scholar and polymath who published around 40 major works, most notably in the fields of comparative religion, geology, and medicine Medicine is the science an ...
(1671) who first proposed that living beings enter and exist in the blood (a precursor of
germ theory The germ theory of disease is the currently accepted scientific theory for many diseases. It states that microorganisms known as pathogens or "germs" can lead to disease. These small organisms, too small to be seen without magnification, invade h ...
). In the development of
ophthalmology Ophthalmology ( ) is a surgery, surgical subspecialty within medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. An ophthalmologist is a physician who undergoes subspecialty training in medical and surgical eye care. Followin ...
,
Christoph Scheiner Christoph Scheiner Jesuit, SJ (25 July 1573 (or 1575) – 18 June 1650) was a Jesuit priest, physicist and astronomer in Ingolstadt. Biography Augsburg/Dillingen: 1591–1605 Scheiner was born in Markt Wald near Mindelheim in Swabia, earlier mark ...
made important advances in relation to refraction of light and the retinal image.
Gregor Mendel Gregor Johann Mendel, Augustinians, OSA (; cs, Řehoř Jan Mendel; 20 July 1822 – 6 January 1884) was a biologist, meteorologist, mathematician, Augustinians, Augustinian friar and abbot of St Thomas's Abbey, Brno, St. Thomas' Abbey in Br ...
, an Austrian scientist and Augustinian friar, began experimenting with peas around 1856.
Jacob Bronowski Jacob Bronowski (18 January 1908 – 22 August 1974) was a Polish-British mathematician and philosopher. He was known to friends and professional colleagues alike by the nickname Bruno. He is best known for developing a humanistic approach to sc ...
; ''The Ascent of Man''; Angus & Robertson, 1973
Mendel had joined the
Brno Brno ( , ; german: Brünn ) is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd ...
Augustinian Monastery in 1843, but also trained as a scientist at the Olmutz Philosophical Institute and the
University of Vienna The University of Vienna (german: Universität Wien) is a public university, public research university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the Geogra ...
. The Brno Monastery was a centre of scholarship, with an extensive library and tradition of scientific research. Observing the processes of pollination at his monastery in modern Czechoslovakia, Mendel studied and developed theories pertaining to the field of science now called
genetics Genetics is the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.Hartl D, Jones E (2005) It is an important branch in biology because heredity is vital to organisms' evolution. Gregor Mendel, a Moravian Augustinians, Augustinian fr ...
. Mendel published his results in 1866 in the ''Journal of the Brno Natural History Society'', and is considered the father of modern genetics. Where
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin ( ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, widely known for his contributions to evolutionary biology. His proposition that all species of life have descended ...
's theories suggested a mechanism for improvement of species over generations, Mendel's observations provided explanation for how a new species itself could emerge. Though Darwin and Mendel never collaborated, they were aware of each other's work (Darwin read a paper by
Wilhelm Olbers Focke Wilhelm Olbers Focke (5 April 1834, Bremen Bremen (Low German also: ''Breem'' or ''Bräm''), officially the City Municipality of Bremen (german: Stadtgemeinde Bremen, ), is the capital of the Germany, German States of Germany, state Bremen (state ...
which extensively referenced Mendel).
Bill Bryson William McGuire Bryson (; born 8 December 1951) is an Americans in the United Kingdom, American–British journalist and author. Bryson has written a number of nonfiction books on topics including travel, the English language, and science. Bor ...
wrote that "without realizing it, Darwin and Mendel laid the groundwork for all of life sciences in the twentieth century. Darwin saw that all living things are connected, that ultimately they trace their ancestry to a single, common source; Mendel's work provided the mechanism to explain how that could happen". Catholic religious institutes, notably those for women, developed many hospitals throughout Europe and its empires. Ancient orders like the Dominicans and Carmelites have long lived in religious communities that work in ministries such as education and care of the sick. The Portuguese Saint
John of God John of God ( pt, João de Deus; es, Juan de Dios; lat, Joannes Dei; March 8, 1495 – March 8, 1550) was a Portuguese soldier turned health-care worker in Spain, whose followers later formed the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God, ...
(d. 1550) founded the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God to care for the sick and afflicted. The order built hospitals across Europe and its growing empires. In 1898, John was declared patron of the dying and of all hospitals by
Pope Leo XIII Pope Leo XIII ( it, Leone XIII; born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci; 2 March 1810 – 20 July 1903) was the head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death in July 1903. Living until the age of 93, he was the second-old ...
. The Italian Saint Camillus de Lellis, considered a
patron saint A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Catholic Church, Catholicism, Anglicanism, or Eastern Orthodoxy is regarded as the heavenly advocacy, advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, ...
of nurses, was a reformed gambler and soldier who became a nurse and then director of Romes's Hospital of St. James, the hospital for incurables. In 1584 he founded the Camillians to tend to the plague-stricken. Irishwoman Catherine McAuley founded the
Sisters of Mercy The Sisters of Mercy is a religious institute of Catholic Church, Catholic Woman, women founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland, by Catherine McAuley. As of 2019, the institute had about 6200 Religious sister, sisters worldwide, organized into a num ...
in Dublin in 1831. Her congregation went on to found schools and hospitals across the globe. Saint
Jeanne Jugan Jeanne Jugan (October 25, 1792 – August 29, 1879), also known as Sister Mary of the Cross, L.S.P., was a French woman who became known for the dedication of her life to the neediest of the elderly poor. Her service resulted in the establishment ...
founded the
Little Sisters of the Poor The Little Sisters of the Poor (french: Petites Sœurs des pauvres) is a Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It ...
on the
Rule of Saint Augustine The Rule of Saint Augustine, written about the year 400, is a brief document divided into eight chapters and serves as an outline for religious life lived in community. It is the oldest monastic rule in the Western Church. The rule, developed b ...
to assist the impoverished elderly of the streets of France in the mid-nineteenth century. It too spread around the world. In 2017, controversy arose when an Associated Press report, which the Vatican criticized, stated that Bambino Gesu (Baby Jesus) Pediatric Hospital, a cornerstone of Italy's health care system and administered by the Holy See, put children at risk between 2008 and 2015 and turned its attention to profit after losing money and expanding services.


The Americas

The Spanish and Portuguese Empires were largely responsible for spreading the Catholic faith and its philosophy regarding health care to South and Central America, where the church established substantial hospital networks. Catholic hospitals were established in the modern United States prior to the
American War of Independence The American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783), also known as the Revolutionary War or American War of Independence, was a major war of the American Revolution. Widely considered as the war that secured the independence of t ...
. The first was probably Charity Hospital, New Orleans, established around 1727. The Sisters of Saint Francis of Syracuse, New York, produced Saint
Marianne Cope Marianne Cope, also known as Saint Marianne of Molokai, (January 23, 1838 – August 9, 1918) was a German-born American religious sister who was a member of the Sisters of St Francis of Syracuse, New York, and founding leader of its St. Jose ...
, who opened and operated some of the first general hospitals in the United States, instituting cleanliness standards which influenced the development of America's modern hospital system, and famously taking her nuns to Hawaii to work with Saint Damien of Molokai in the care of lepers. St Damien himself is considered a martyr of charity and model of Catholic humanitarianism for his mission to the lepers of Molokai. The Catholic Church is the largest private provider of health care in the United States of America. During the 1990s, the church provided about one in six hospital beds in America, at around 566 hospitals, many established by nuns. The church has carried a disproportionate number of poor and uninsured patients at its facilities and the American bishops first called for
universal health care Universal health care (also called universal health coverage, universal coverage, or universal care) is a health care system in which all residents of a particular country or region are assured access to health care. It is generally organized ar ...
in America in 1919. The church has been an active campaigner in that cause ever since. In the abortion debate in America, the church has sought to retain the right not to perform abortions in its health care facilities. In 2012, the church operated 12.6% of hospitals in the US, accounting for 15.6% of all admissions, and around 14.5% of hospital expenses (c. 98.6 billion dollars). Compared to the public system, the church provided greater financial assistance or free care to poor patients, and was a leading provider of various low-profit health services such as breast cancer screenings, nutrition programs, trauma, and care of the elderly. Catholic medical facilities in the United States have refused treatment which runs counter to their beliefs. Contraception is a treatment that is not provided, and some Catholic health care providers have refused to treat complications caused by contraceptives. Those seeking treatment within a Catholic facility may be unaware of these restrictions or unaware that their health provider is connected with the Catholic Church until seeking treatment for such an issue.


Asia

During the Middle Ages, Arab medicine was influential on Europe. During Europe's
Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery (or the Age of Exploration), also known as the early modern period, was a period largely overlapping with the Age of Sail, approximately from the 15th century to the 17th century in European history, during which seafar ...
, Catholic missionaries, notably the Jesuits, introduced the modern sciences to India, China and Japan. While persecutions continue to limit the spread of Catholic institutions to some Middle Eastern Muslim nations, places such as the People's Republic of China and North Korea, elsewhere in Asia the church is a major provider of health care services – especially in Catholic nations like the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...
. The famous
Mother Teresa Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, MC (; 26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), better known as Mother Teresa ( sq, Nënë Tereza), was an Indian-Albanian Catholic Church, Catholic nun who, in 1950, founded the Missionaries of Charity. Anjezë Gonxhe B ...
of Calcutta established the
Missionaries of Charity The Missionaries of Charity ( la, Congregatio Missionariarum a Caritate) is a Catholic centralized religious institute of consecrated life of Pontifical Right for women established in 1950 by Mother Teresa, now known in the Catholic Church a ...
in the slums of Calcutta in 1948 to work among "the poorest of the poor". Initially founding a school, she then gathered other sisters who "rescued new-born babies abandoned on rubbish heaps; they sought out the sick; they took in lepers, the unemployed, and the mentally ill". Teresa achieved fame in the 1960s and began to establish convents around the world. By the time of her death in 1997, the religious institute she founded had more than 450 centres in over 100 countries.


Oceania

French, Portuguese, British and Irish missionaries brought Catholicism to Oceania and built hospitals and care centres across the region. The church remains not only a key provider of health care in predominantly Catholic nations like
East Timor East Timor (), also known as Timor-Leste (), officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, is an island country in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the exclave of Oecusse on the island's north-wester ...
but also in predominantly Protestant and secular nations like Australia and New Zealand. As restrictions were lifted by British authorities on the practice of Catholicism in colonial Australia, Catholic religious institutes founded many of Australia's hospitals. Irish Sisters of Charity arrived in Sydney in 1838 and established
St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney is a leading tertiary referral hospital and research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and an ...
, in 1857 as a free hospital for the poor. The Sisters went on to found hospitals, hospices, research institutes and aged care facilities in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. At St Vincent's they trained leading surgeon Victor Chang and opened Australia's first
AIDS Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a retrovirus. Following initial infection an individual ma ...
clinic. In the 21st century, with more and more lay people involved in management, the sisters began collaborating with
Sisters of Mercy The Sisters of Mercy is a religious institute of Catholic Church, Catholic Woman, women founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland, by Catherine McAuley. As of 2019, the institute had about 6200 Religious sister, sisters worldwide, organized into a num ...
Hospitals in Melbourne and Sydney. Jointly the group operates four public hospitals; seven private hospitals and 10 aged care facilities. The
Sisters of Mercy The Sisters of Mercy is a religious institute of Catholic Church, Catholic Woman, women founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland, by Catherine McAuley. As of 2019, the institute had about 6200 Religious sister, sisters worldwide, organized into a num ...
arrived in Auckland in 1850 and were the first order of religious sisters to come to New Zealand; they began work in health care and education. The
Sisters of St Joseph The Sisters of St. Joseph, also known as the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, abbreviated CSJ or SSJ, is a Roman Catholic religious congregation of women founded in Le Puy-en-Velay, France, in 1650. This congregation, named for S ...
was founded in Australia by Australia's first Saint,
Mary MacKillop Mary Helen MacKillop RSJ (15 January 1842 – 8 August 1909) was an Australian religious sister who has been declared a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, liken ...
, and Fr
Julian Tenison Woods Julian Edmund Tenison-Woods (15 November 18327 October 1889), commonly referred to as Father Woods, was an English Catholic Church, Catholic priest and geologist who served in Australia.D. H. BorchardtTenison-Woods, Julian Edmund (1832–1889) ' ...
in 1867. MacKillop travelled throughout
Australasia Australasia is a region that comprises Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. ...
and established schools, convents and charitable institutions. The English
Sisters of the Little Company of Mary The Little Company of Mary is a Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map ...
arrived in 1885 and have since established public and private hospitals, retirement living and residential aged care, community care and comprehensive palliative care in New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The
Little Sisters of the Poor The Little Sisters of the Poor (french: Petites Sœurs des pauvres) is a Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It ...
, who follow the
charism A spiritual gift or charism (plural: charisms or charismata; in Greek language, Greek singular: wikt:χάρισμα, χάρισμα ''charisma'', plural: χαρίσματα ''charismata'') is an extraordinary power given by the Holy Spirit in Ch ...
of Saint Jeanne Jugan to "offer hospitality to the needy aged" arrived in Melbourne in 1884 and now operate four aged care homes in Australia. Catholic Health Australia is today the largest non-government provider grouping of health, community and aged care services in Australia. These do not operate for profit and range across the full spectrum of health services, representing about 10% of the health sector and employing 35,000 people. Catholic organisations in New Zealand remain heavily involved in community activities including education, health services, chaplaincy to prisons, rest homes, and hospitals,
social justice Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, Equal opportunity, opportunities, and Social privilege, privileges within a society. In Western Civilization, Western and Culture of Asia, Asian cultures, the concept of social ...
, and
human rights Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Social norm, normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for ce ...
advocacy.


Africa

Catholicism has grown rapidly in Africa over the last two centuries. As in all other continents, Catholic missionaries established health care centres across the continent – though limitations on Catholic institutions remain in place for much of Muslim North Africa.
Caritas Internationalis Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic Church, Catholic Humanitarian aid, relief, International development, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Collectivel ...
is the Church's main international aid and development body and operates in over 200 countries and territories and co-operates closely with the United Nations.


=HIV/AIDS

=
Pope Paul VI Pope Paul VI ( la, Paulus VI; it, Paolo VI; born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, ; 26 September 18976 August 1978) was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City, Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his ...
issued the ''
Humanae Vitae ''Humanae vitae'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around ...
'' Encyclical Letter on the Regulation of Birth in 1968, which outlined opposition to "artificial birth control" on the basis that it would open a "wide and easy road ... towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality". In response to the subsequent AIDS epidemic which emerged from the 1980s onward, the
United Nations Population Fund The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, is a United Nations System, UN agency aimed at improving reproductive health, reproductive and maternal health worldwide. Its work includes ...
(UNFPA) has argued that "comprehensive condom programming is a key institutional priority ... because condoms ... are recognized as the only currently available and effective way to prevent HIV – and other sexually transmitted infections – among sexually active people". A 2014 report by The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the Church to "overcome all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality that hinder their access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning and contraceptives". In Africa today, the church is heavily engaged in providing care to AIDS sufferers amidst the AIDS epidemic. Following the election of
Pope Francis Pope Francis ( la, Franciscus; it, Francesco; es, link=, Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church. He has been the bishop of Rome and sovereign of the Vatican City State since 13 March 2013. ...
in 2013, UNAIDS wrote that the Church "provides support to millions of people living with HIV around the world" and that "Statistics from the Vatican in 2012 indicate that Catholic Church-related organizations provide approximately a quarter of all HIV treatment, care, and support throughout the world and run more than 5,000 hospitals, 18,000 dispensaries and 9,000 orphanages, many involved in AIDS-related activities." UNAIDS co-operates closely with the Church on critical issues such as the elimination of new HIV infections in children and keeping their mothers alive, as well as increasing access to antiretroviral medication.


=COVID-19

= In April 2020, the Vatican's Congregation for the Eastern Churches set up a coronavirus fund to address the health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a response to Pope Francis’ invitation to “not abandon the suffering, especially the poorest, in facing the global crisis caused by the pandemic.” In early March 2020, in the United States, Catholic churches practiced avoiding hugs and handshakes as a precautionary measure against spreading the virus. According to Reverend Jeffery Ott of Our Lady of Lourdes in Atlanta, Georgia, the church had to omit the sharing of wine in the chalice during Holy Communion.


Contemporary issues


Bioethics

Because the Catholic Church opposes abortion,
euthanasia Euthanasia (from el, εὐθανασία 'good death': εὖ, ''eu'' 'well, good' + θάνατος, ''thanatos'' 'death') is the practice of intentionally ending life to eliminate pain and suffering. Different countries have different Legali ...
and
contraception Birth control, also known as contraception, anticonception, and fertility control, is the use of methods or devices to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Birth control has been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods of birth contr ...
and other procedures, Catholic health facilities will not provide most or all such services. In public debates, particularly among Western nations like the United States, this has raised questions over insurance public/private financial co-operation and government interference and regulation of health facilities. Writing in 2012, the Australian human rights lawyer and Jesuit Frank Brennan, in response to calls for public funding to Catholic hospitals to be contingent on them offering the "full suites of services", said that: The Catholic Church's opposition to abortion has also restricted its hospitals' treatment of miscarriages. In cases where evacuation of the miscarriage from the uterus is medically indicated, doctors have been prohibited from carrying it out while a fetal heartbeat is still present, "in effect delaying care until fetal heart tones cease, the pregnant woman becomes ill, or the patient is transported to a non–Catholic-owned facility for the procedure." A number of controversies have arisen over the application of these treatments in Catholic hospitals, or the lack thereof; for instance, in the United States, a member of a hospital ethics committee was excommunicated when she approved a therapeutic, direct abortion to save a patient's life, and in Germany a case of two hospitals turning away and refusing to examine or treat a rape victim led to new guidelines from the country's bishops stating that hospitals could provide emergency contraception to victims of rape. As regards
IVF In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilisation Fertilisation or fertilization (see American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), spelling differences), also known as generative fertili ...
and
surrogacy Surrogacy is an arrangement, often supported by a legal agreement, whereby a woman agrees to Childbirth, delivery/labour for another person or people, who will become the child's parent(s) after birth. People may seek a surrogacy arrangement w ...
, the Church's teaching, which states that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death, and that the vulnerable should be protected, therefore finds that this technology, which leads to the death of many embryos for each successful pregnancy, to be an abuse of power at the cost of the weakest. However, Catholics have been active in developing alternative treatments for infertility and especially addressing its root causes, which, in addition to causing infertility or risk of miscarriage, are likely to have other consequences on health, such as
polycystic ovarian syndrome Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age. The syndrome is named after the characteristic cysts which may form on the ovaries, though it is important to note that this is a sign and ...
,
thyroid The thyroid, or thyroid gland, is an endocrine gland in vertebrates. In humans it is in the neck and consists of two connected lobe (anatomy), lobes. The lower two thirds of the lobes are connected by a thin band of Connective tissue, tissue cal ...
conditions and
endometriosis Endometriosis is a disease of the female reproductive system in which cell (biology), cells similar to those in the endometrium, the layer of Tissue (biology), tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus, grow outside the uterus. Most o ...
. Pope Paul VI Institute, retrieved 19 May 2015 In 2016, a woman was refused treatment according to the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" for her dislodged
IUD An intrauterine device (IUD), also known as intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD or ICD) or coil, is a small, often T-shaped birth control Birth control, also known as contraception, anticonception, and fertility control, is the use ...
, although she was bleeding, cramping and in pain.


Transgender

In 2019, a Catholic hospital in
Eureka, California Eureka (Wiyot language, Wiyot: ''Jaroujiji'', Hupa language, Hupa: ''do'-wi-lotl-ding'', Karuk language, Karuk: ''uuth'') is the principal city and county seat of Humboldt County, California, Humboldt County in the North Coast, California, Redw ...
was criticized for not performing a hysterectomy as part of a sex-change operation.


Patron saints


Physicians

There are a number of
patron saints A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Catholic Church, Catholicism, Anglicanism, or Eastern Orthodoxy is regarded as the heavenly advocacy, advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, ...
for physicians, the most important of whom are Saint Luke the Evangelist, the physician and disciple of
Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth (among other Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament, names and titles), was ...
; Saints Cosmas and Damian, 3rd-century physicians from
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
; and
Saint Pantaleon Saint Pantaleon ( el, Παντελεήμων, russian: Пантелеи́мон, translit=Panteleímon; "all-compassionate"), counted in the West among the late-medieval Fourteen Holy Helpers and in the East as one of the Holy Unmercenary Heale ...
, a 4th-century physician from
Nicomedia Nicomedia (; el, Νικομήδεια, ''Nikomedeia''; modern İzmit) was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek city located in what is now Turkey. In 286, Nicomedia became the eastern and most senior capital city of the Roman Empire (chosen by the e ...
.
Archangel Raphael Raphael (, "God has healed"), ''Rəfāʾēl'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: ''Răp̄āʾēl''; Literal translation, lit. 'God has healed'; grc, Ραφαήλ, ''Raphaḗl''; cop, ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ, ''Rafaêl''; ar, رافائيل, ''Rāfā’ī ...
is also considered a patron saint of physicians.


Surgeons

The
patron saints A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Catholic Church, Catholicism, Anglicanism, or Eastern Orthodoxy is regarded as the heavenly advocacy, advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, ...
for surgeons are Saint Luke the Evangelist, the physician and disciple of
Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth (among other Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament, names and titles), was ...
, Saints Cosmas and Damian (3rd-century physicians from
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
),
Saint Quentin Saint Quentin ( la, Quintinus; died 287 AD) also known as Quentin of Amiens, was an early Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monothei ...
(3rd-century saint from France), Saint Foillan (7th-century saint from
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
), and
Saint Roch Roch (lived c. 1348 – 15/16 August 1376/79 (traditionally c. 1295 – 16 August 1327, also called Rock in English, is a Saint#Catholicism, Catholic saint, a confessor whose death is commemorated on 16 August and 9 September in Italy; he is e ...
(14th-century saint from France).


Nurses

Various Catholic saints are considered patrons of nursing:
Saint Agatha Agatha of Sicily () is a Christian saint. Her Calendar of saints, feast is on 5 February. Agatha was born in Catania, part of the Sicilia (Roman province), Roman Province of Sicily, and was martyred . She is one of several virgin martyrs who are ...
,
Saint Alexius Saint Alexius of Rome or Alexius of Edessa ( el, Ἀλέξιος, ''Alexios''), also Alexis, was a fourth-century Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group ...
, Saint Camillus of Lellis, St
Catherine of Alexandria Catherine of Alexandria (also spelled Katherine); grc-gre, ἡ Ἁγία Αἰκατερίνη ἡ Μεγαλομάρτυς ; ar, سانت كاترين; la, Catharina Alexandrina). is, according to tradition, a Christian saint and virgin, wh ...
, St
Catherine of Siena Catherine of Siena (Italian (language), Italian: ''Caterina da Siena''; 25 March 1347 – 29 April 1380), a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, was a mystic, activist, and author who had a great influence on Italian literature and on t ...
, St
John of God John of God ( pt, João de Deus; es, Juan de Dios; lat, Joannes Dei; March 8, 1495 – March 8, 1550) was a Portuguese soldier turned health-care worker in Spain, whose followers later formed the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God, ...
, St
Margaret of Antioch Margaret, known as Margaret of Antioch in the West, and as Saint Marina the Great Martyr ( grc-gre, Ἁγία Μαρίνα) in the East, is celebrated as a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exc ...
, and Raphael the Archangel.


See also

* Catholic Health Association of the United States * Catholic Medical Association *
Chinese medicine Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an alternative medicine, alternative medical practice drawn from traditional medicine in China. It has been described as "fraught with pseudoscience", with the majority of its treatments having no logica ...
*
Islamic medicine In the history of medicine, "Islamic medicine" is the Science in the medieval Islamic world, science of medicine developed in the Middle East, and usually written in Arabic language, Arabic, the ''lingua franca'' of Islamic civilization. Islam ...
*
Philosophy of healthcare The philosophy of healthcare is the study of the ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of morality, right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Inte ...
* Rose Mass * White Mass


References


Bibliography

* *


External links


Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (For Health Pastoral Care)Global Pandemic and Universal Brotherhood
{{Catholic Church footer Religion and medicine Catholic hospital networks in the United States