Bishop Vasa to doctors: Faith trumps supposed medical norms
KANSAS CITY, Kansas, February 16, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Medical professionals are called to follow Christ courageously in their practice even where it might seem ridiculous to mainstream medicine, said Bishop Robert Vasa in a homily at a White Mass in Kansas City on Saturday.
Reflecting on the miracle of the Wedding Feast at Cana in John’s Gospel, Bishop Vasa told the gathering of medical professionals that where their Catholic faith appears to conflict with supposed medical norms, they should respond as the stewards did when Mary pointed to Christ saying “Do whatever He tells you.”
The White Mass was put on jointly by the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Archdiocese of Kansas City, and was sponsored by the Kansas City chapter of the Catholic Medical Association.
“In those instances where faith and reason seem to be in conflict then, provided you truly know your faith, you will become convinced that it is reason and not faith which is involved in error,” the bishop explained.
“In our subjectivist, relativistic age which often masquerades as an age of pure reason it is tempting to put a lot more faith in science and reason than it is to put faith in God,” he said. “Yet, both are acts of faith and both are directed toward a perceived god. For much of our society that god is science or government or technology. For us there is a greater God and a greater good.”
The bishop said that while the stewards’ choice to fill the stone jars with water might look easy to us, it “could have been neither easy nor automatic,” and would have actually seemed “foolish, ridiculous, even stupid.”
“There was no time for such nonsense. Their reputations, their jobs, their livelihood was at stake,” he explained.
Likewise for medical professionals, following Christ’s commands will seem “foolish, ridiculous, even stupid,” he said, “but we need to hear Mary’s words as readily and as faithfully as did those stewards, ‘Do whatever He tells you.’”
“We are repeatedly challenged to decide if we are people of science or people of faith,” he explained. “In truth, we must always be both. In those instances where faith and science agree there is no moral or ethical conflict. In those instances where science or the usual practice of medicine conflicts with faith, or conflicts with the moral code of our Church, we must be men and women of faith.”
The bishop suggested that in His healings of the sick, the lame, the blind, Christ used “intentionally farfetched” commands to teach us “a profound lesson of trust.”
“Each of these encounters with the healing Jesus involved a serious suspension of reason, a willingness to keep science in its proper place,” he explained.
“As Physicians who embrace the Catholic faith you must know that you cannot minimize or neglect reason or science in your pursuit of good for your patients,” he noted. “For you, however, as believers in Jesus, that reason will and must always be tempered by, and subject to, faith.”
Bishop Vasa, currently head of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, was appointed last month as Coadjutor of the Diocese of Santa Rosa in California. He’s served as Episcopal Advisor for the Catholic Medical Association since 2002.
In Baker, the bishop developed a strong reputation for calling Catholics to uphold moral standards in all areas of public life. Last year, he drew rebukes and praise after ending the Church’s sponsorship of a hospital in the diocese that had refused to stop performing sterilizations and other practices contrary to Catholic teachings.
Bishop Vasa’s full address is available here, at the blog of the Catholic Key, the official newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.