Vancouver archbishop: health care workers have ‘grave duty’ not to cooperate in evil practices

“We must never allow ourselves to become marginalized because of our lack of courage," said the archbishop.
Wed Feb 16, 2011 - 4:23 pm EST

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, February 16, 2011 ( – In a homily during the White Mass for health care providers in January, Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver warned health workers against stooping “to a conspiracy of silence and complicity” where conscience rights are subverted.

Archbishop Miller, one of Canada’s most outspokenly pro-life and pro-family bishops, said that growing secularism in society poses a threat to religion in the pubic sphere, particularly the realm of health care.  Health care professionals must be free to live out their faith in their healing work, he said.

“This spiritually lethal secularism strives to confine the influence and role of religious faith of all stripes to worship services, socially acceptable charity, and works for justice. Obliging people of faith to keep their opinions to themselves is … a thinly veiled way of curtailing the freedom of expression of religious believers.”

The archbishop challenged health workers to resist such “attempts to marginalize our faith” and to stand up as able Catholics in their professions.  Faith, he said, though a personal matter, is not, and should never be treated as, a private issue, regardless of the increased pressure to assume that rights to medical care override respect for the provider’s conscience.

“The Church unequivocally teaches that a person ‘is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his or her conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he or she to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious’ (Vatican II),” said Archbishop Miller.

Quoting Vatican II, the archbishop emphasized that, as Catholic professionals, health care workers have “a grave duty of conscience not to cooperate in practices which, although permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to the law of God.”  Further, he stated that “to refuse to cooperate in evil actions is not only a duty, but also a fundamental human right.”

“We must never allow ourselves to become marginalized because of our lack of courage. We cannot stoop to a conspiracy of silence and complicity.”

The archbishop concluded, ”The Church’s vitality has often resulted from persecution. Our day seems to be no exception. Are we, too, ready to give our lives where it costs us the most, in our profession?”

The full-text of the homily may be read here.

  canada, health care, j. michael miller

Keep this news available to you and millions more

Your gift will spread truth, defeat lies, and save lives

Share this article