Cardinal Thomas Collins Photo by Evan Boudreau

All God’s children deserve to be treated reverence, cardinal tells health care workers

  • October 1, 2015

TORONTO - Catholic health care workers must always remember that their patients are “a child of God” to be treated with special reverence from beginning to end, Cardinal Thomas Collins told the Catholic Health Association of Ontario.

“The key point is that each one of us is a child of God to be treated with reverence from the first moments of conception to natural death,” said Collins. “This principle must guide all of those engaged in Catholic health care as they serve people in all stages of life on this Earth.”

The Archbishop of Toronto opened the Catholic Health Association of Ontario’s annual conference in Toronto by delivering a keynote speech Sept. 30. Now in its 15th year, the three-day conference brought together more than 150 representative from the 35 Catholic health care facilities that belong to the Catholic Health Association of Ontario. Held at the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel, this year's conference carries the theme The Palliative Care Alternative: Comfort, Love, Mercy.

With the Supreme Court of Canada paving the way for legalized assisted suicide, along with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario stripping away conscience rights of doctors earlier this year, it’s something to keep in mind especially for those working in palliative care, said the cardinal.

“We need to reflect upon the reverence of life, particularly the sanctity of life, and the great moments of life, particularly a very special one that is when we come to the end of our earthly life,” he said. “(For) there comes a point when a person needs to be assisted on their way to end of their life and that is why palliative care is so important. But we of course should not be helping people to die in the way in which we see in the recent decision of the Supreme Court, we are to accompany people, to journey with them, on their path towards the heaven of Jerusalem.”

“The theme for this year's convention provides a compassion way to perceive as well as a challenge for all care for the dying” said Ralph Peter ,who kicked off the evening with a song and prayer. “Acquiring the medical and personal knowledge along with a supportive pastoral team must be a priority as palliative care alternatives. Comfort, love, mercy is to become the hallmark of Catholic health care organizations, leaders in the care of the dying and the support of their families. ”

Collins echoed those words during his address.

“There has got to be that sense that we are in a place where we have a reverence for the human person” when entering a Catholic health care facility, he said. “We are people who are called to have that reverence because of creation; we are all made in the image and the likeness of God. We need to the balance between faith and reason.”

David Nash, chair of the Catholic Health Association of Ontario, said the cardinal “set the tone” for the conference by giving those in attendance something to truly reflect upon.

“We have a job to do over these next couple of days to take that message and ... go back into our communities with that message,” he said.

Sr. Nuala Kenny, ethics and health policy advisory for the Catholic Heath Alliance of Canada, John Pereira, professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa and Balfour Mount emeritus professor of palliative medicine at McGill University, were also to speak during the conference, as was John Fraser, parliamentary assistant to Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

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