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Bishop Guglielmone forms Catholic physicians’ guild

Catholic physicians guild, health care reform, bio-ethical issues, dignity of the human personCOLUMBIA—A new physicians’ guild is being established in the Diocese of Charleston, and Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone invites all doctors to attend its inaugural meeting.

Scheduled for Jan. 30 at St. Peter Church, the half-day event will feature Bishop Guglielmone and several leaders of the Catholic Medical Association, who will discuss the history and purpose of the group, bio-ethical issues, health care reform, and the dignity of the human person.

The bishop said the idea for a physicians’ guild in the diocese first came up during a discussion of pending legislation on health care and medical research.

Key concerns for Catholics include possible funding for abortion, affordability, fairness to legal immigrants and issues regarding the sanctity of life.

“We felt that with all of the discussion about health care it might be good to connect Catholic physicians and the bishop formally,” Bishop Guglielmone wrote in an e-mail to The Miscellany.

About 200 Catholic doctors are registered in the state and all have been invited to attend the meeting, said Stephen Gajdosik, media relations liaison for the diocese and an event coordinator.

Along with personal invitations, the conference was also promoted in church bulletins and on Catholic radio. Gajdosik said they hope to attract a large crowd interested in helping the bishop with the medical issues of the day.

Assisting the bishops of the church and the whole Christian community is one of the primary purposes of the Catholic Medical Association, as stated on the Web site

The association is a national group that connects diocesan medical guilds.

The guilds include all Catholics involved in health care. Medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine are members, while other doctors such as dentists and chiropractors are associates and Catholic health care workers are affiliates, Gajdosik said.

Specifically, the goals of guild members are to help:

  • uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine;
  • assist the church in the work of communicating Catholic medical ethics to the medical profession and society at large;
  • support Catholic hospitals in faithfully applying Catholic moral principles in health care delivery;
  • enable Catholic physicians to know one another better and work together with deeper mutual support and understanding.

Speakers at the event will include Father Joseph Tham, Dr. Greg F. Burke and John Brehany.

Father Tham was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada at age 15. He graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto. He served as a family physician before entering the seminary of the Legionaries of Christ and was ordained a priest in 2004. Father Tham wrote his doctoral dissertation on “The Secularization of Bioethics — A Critical History.”

Dr. Burke is the medical director at Geisinger HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Danville, Pa. He is board-certified in internal medicine and recently received the 2009 Clinical Excellence Award during HealthSouth’s Medical Directors’ Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Brehany, Ph.D., STL, joined the Catholic Medical Association as executive director and ethicist in September 2006. He has earned a number of degrees, including his doctorate in health care ethics from Saint Louis University in 2003.

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