TOLEDO, O.-In a dramatic, impassioned address to Catholic physicians and health care workers in Toledo, O., Fiorenzo Cardinal Angelini declared that "Humanae Vitae" "is a doctrine of the Church expressed in a very solemn form," and if people do "not believe that, they are committing a sin."
Cardinal Angelini, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, spoke here April 6th for nearly an hour and one-half to approximately 150 area health workers at St. Vincent's Hospital, reading first in English from a prepared text, and then speaking from the heart, in Italian, with a translator at his side.
"I didn't come here to agitate you," the cardinal said repeatedly during his uncommonly blunt appeal to doctors to embrace the principles of "Humanae Vitae" and make it the inspiration of their work. It was clear, however, from his dramatic inflections and gestures that he was not in Toledo to affirm any lukewarmness toward Pope Paul VI's encyclical or to encourage Catholic doctors who treat the encyclical with benign neglect.
"Humanae Vitae", said Angelini, "is the message of Christ, and we must admire it. It is a magisterial teaching of the Church and we are obliged to observe it and make sure it is observed by others."
Cardinal Angelini, who was asked by Pope John Paul II to establish the council ten years ago in order to disseminate, explain and defend the Church's teachings in the field of health care and to promote their introduction into 30,000 Catholic health institutions worldwide, reminded the doctors of the moral obligation they have to promote "Humanae Vitae" in their work.
If they fail to do so, he warned, it is tantamount to denying Christ as St. Peter did, or betraying Him as Judas did.
He exhorted doctors to examine their consciences in this matter. He revealed that for the past two decades, he has gone to Confession every week, and he reminded doctors that they will find the fortitude they need to promote "Humanae Vitae" in their work if they make use of that sacrament often.
"I talk to you as a priest," the cardinal said. "There is a need for intellectual obedience to the Magisterium. When one is a member of the Church, one chooses to obey.
"In "Humanae Vitae" Pope Paul Vl invited physicians and health care workers to study and find ways to facilitate the Church's law, and he reminded them that they are able to give great 'peace of mind to married couples who have the duty to propagate human life.
"Human life should be conducted with feelings of sacredness and responsibility. You must be ready to make sacrifices to make sure that it is," he stated.
He offered the doctors the analogy of a stoplight. "What would you say if President Clinton passed a law getting rid of all the red lights, because they are an inconvenience? What if he got rid of every public service?
"One cannot live life without law. There are advantages and disadvantages with the law. We do not like to stop at a red light when we are in a hurry."
"What the Magisterium of the Church is trying to do," the cardinal said, "is to maintain life the way God lovingly gave it."
In these extemporaneous remarks, the cardinal also appealed to the doctors to read and study the messages of Pope Pius XII, which, he said, provide ethical and moral principles still relevant today and are read by many intelligent priests and doctors, both Catholic and Protestant.
In the section of his address he delivered in English, because it was "so important," the cardinal insisted that doctors have a responsibility to constantly update their moral training.
"This is a field in which deficiencies and gaps in both individuals and professional associations are often worrisome. The prejudice persists that the teaching of the Church on morals and bioethics is constituted by a series of 'No's,' whereas it is extremely positive and stimulates ever more careful, rigorous research to the point of scrupulousness.
"Every 'no' by the Church is accompanied by a motivation which, in the final analysis, is a 'yes' to life and its inviolability."
The cardinal then enumerated the "inalienable rights" which doctors should affirm "firmly and courageously":
"Fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses must not be donated or sold, must not be denied progressive development in their mother's womb, and must not be subject to any kind of exploitation."
"No authority, not even the father or mother, can make an attempt on their life."
"The manipulation and dissection of embryos and fetuses, abortion, and euthanasia must not be carried out by those engaged in serving life."
"The seeds of human life must always be protected."
"The human genome, of which each generation is only the guardian, must not be the object of speculation for ideological or commercial purposes."
"The composition of the human genome is the patrimony of all humanity and, therefore, must not be patented."
"In keeping with the Hippocratic tradition and the tradition of the Church, the health care workers must reject all deliberate deterioration of the genome, all exploitation of gametes, and any induced alteration of reproductive functions."
"The alleviation of suffering, the healing of illness, the safeguarding of health, and the correction of hereditary defects are the essential aims of the Catholic health care worker, while preserving all due respect for the dignity and sacredness of life."
This article was taken from THE WANDERER.