Allocating Scarce Medical Resources: Roman Catholic Perspectives

By H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr.; Mark J. Cherry | Go to book overview

The Current Medical Crises of
Resources: Some Orthodox
Christian Reflections

Very Reverend Edward Hughes

The moral issues raised in considering limiting access to medical treatment due to limited resources are of pressing interest in industrial countries today. It has been, in the United States at least, also an issue of some political importance. How our cultures and countries deal with these issues will reflect how we feel about life and its meaning, as well as death and its meaning.

In a discussion of the Roman Catholic perspective on limiting access to medical care, it might be asked what an Orthodox Christian might contribute. Pope John Paul Us apostolic letter of May 2, 1995, Orientale Lumen, speaks directly to such a question. To begin with, he says,

Since, in fact, we believe that the venerable and ancient tradition of the Eastern
Churches is an integral part of the heritage of Christ's Church, the first need for
Catholics is to be familiar with that tradition, so as to be nourished by it. … Our
Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters are very conscious of being the living bearers
of this tradition, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. The members of
the Catholic Church of the Latin tradition must also be fully acquainted with this
treasure. (§1)

I listen to the churches of the East, which I know are living interpreters of the trea-
sure of the tradition they preserve. … It is earnestly recommended that Catholics
avail themselves more often of the spiritual riches of the Eastern Fathers which lift
up the whole man to the contemplation of the divine mysteries. (§5)

The Pope of Rome is aware that in the study of revealed truth East and West have used different methods and approaches in understanding and confessing divine things. This is quite important in a discussion such as ours. Because the Orthodox tend to use different approaches and methodology, very often Western philosophers have difficulty in appreciating their point of view. It may appear unintelligible because it is not couched in the familiar cat

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