Catholic Health Care

What is Catholic health care and what is distinctive about it?

In short, Catholic health care providers see their work as an extension of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. A recent statement from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops explains more fully:

The Catholic Church is involved in health care because it believes that care of the sick is an important part of Christ's mandate of service. The Gospel accounts of Jesus' ministry chronicle his acts of healing. The Gospels are filled with examples of Jesus curing many kinds of ailment and illness. In one account, our Lord's mission is described as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah: "He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases" (Matt. 8:17; cf. Isaiah 53:4).

Since the principle work of Christ was our redemption from sin and death, the healing that he brought us went beyond caring only for physical afflictions. His compassion for the poor, the sick and the needy fit within his larger mission of redemption and salvation. Christ touched people at the deepest level of their being. As the source of physical, mental and spiritual healing and well-being, he described his work as bringing life in abundance.

“The dignity and value of human persons is a basic value, not to be traded against some other values.”
— Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

Christians see care for the sick and maintenance of health within the context of Christ's example. Hence, to understand the significant role of the Catholic Church in health care throughout the centuries, one needs to look at the faith of those who have attempted to imitate the love, compassion and healing of Jesus. It is nothing less than Christian love that animates health care within the Church. The work of healing and the acts of compassion that envelop it are seen as a continuation of Christ's mission that is enabled by his life-giving grace. It is out of this context of faith, hope and love that Catholic health care ministry came into existence. (The Pastoral Role of the Diocesan Bishop in Catholic Health Care ministry: A statement of the Administrative Committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, March, 1997, pp. 1-2)

The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine have been devoted to healing since 1851. Their philosophy and mission exemplify the belief that Catholic hospitals continue the healing ministry of Jesus through direct care, outreach services and related health and human services activities. They collaborate with others in bringing services to those who need them most.

Health care is in the midst of rapid change, but the Catholic character of the mission remains a constant within the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. They continue to seek ways to meet emerging needs while at the same time supporting their present ministries. More than 160 years of devotion to healing is alive and well through the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.

The Sisters of Charity Health System follows the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This document offers moral guidance, drawn from the Catholic Church's theological and moral teachings, on various aspects of health care delivery.

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