CHCLA: Strength in Unity

Steven White, MD | The Pulse

We are confronted with very significant challenges in healthcare in America today.

In addition to the ongoing dire circumstances that have arisen as a consequence of dealing with the Covid pandemic, we are now facing an existential threat to Catholic healthcare due to the relentless assault on religious freedom and medical rights of conscience. Therefore, an urgent need exists for a clear, strong and united voice to promote and defend Catholic healthcare practiced in harmony with the mind of Christ and the longstanding tradition of His Church.

Recognizing the need for a new, collaborative initiative to coordinate the good work already being done by many individual organizations, a core group of Catholic healthcare leaders from the Catholic Medical Association, Catholic Bar Association, Catholic Benefits Association, National Catholic Bioethics Center, and Christ Medicus Foundation have formed the Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance (CHCLA) whose vision is the renewal of Catholic healthcare.

Our mission is ­to promote and defend the rights of patients to receive — and medical professionals and institutions to provide — excellent medical care in conformity with the moral, ethical and social teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church. We will do this through evangelization, educational initiatives, public advocacy, mutual support and service. We are pleased that Franciscan Health Alliance has recently joined us as our first member organization.

As a Catholic physician, and as CMA’s representative to the CHCLA, my colleagues and I are acutely aware of the importance of this effort in addressing the problems that we deal with on a daily basis in our medical practices. We also understand that healthcare institutions, from small clinics to large health systems, experience these challenges as well.

While the individual founding organizations of the CHCLA have worked independently for years promoting and practicing Christ-centered care, Bishop James Conley, CMA’s episcopal advisor, inspired this new cooperative endeavor when he said several years ago, “It is time to bring together the best minds in medicine, law, business and theology under the guidance and support of our Bishops, to formulate the best models for Catholic healthcare — models that are replicable and sustainable…models that will not only bring faithful medicine to our people, but bring our people to a deeper relationship with God.”

With that in mind, our objective is to bring together leaders with expertise and experience in all facets of healthcare delivery including medicine, law, theology, and bioethics, as well as pastoral care, administration, and healthcare policy. The purpose is to ensure Catholic healthcare remains faithful to the Divine Physician and its founding principles, while adapting to both the challenges and new opportunities posed by rapid scientific and technological developments and dramatic cultural shifts.

Pope St. John Paul II often spoke of his vision for a new springtime in the Church. As we launch the CHCLA, we too envision a new springtime in healthcare. We look forward to working with all of you to re-establish a culture of life and love in the vocation of medicine and to advance the cause of human life and human dignity from conception to natural death.

Dr. Steven White is president of the Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance and past president of the Catholic Medical Association.