This semester, I’m working with a senior Honors student who wants to look at Benedictine and Franciscan health care institutions. That’s a good project, but I would prefer she get a better picture of Catholic health care in general. I hoped there would be books like Ex Corde Ecclesiae: Documents Concerning Reception and Implementation that would point to central documents and their interpretation, or overviews like Hesburgh’s The Challenge and Promise of a Catholic University, or more general discussions like Landy’s As Leaven in the World: Catholic Perspectives on Faith, Vocation, and the Intellectual Life.
But I was disappointed. The website of the Catholic Health Association and of the Catholic Medical Association have a variety of statements on particular issues, and updates on business-oriented news about Catholic health care. I found one or two books on Catholic health care ethics.
Every Catholic health system I’ve encounter – not only those sponsored by our monastery, but others begun by the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Franciscans, the Mercy Sisters, all have a core idea that health care that is Catholic would be different in some way. Inspired by Matthew 25:31-40 as most are – that in caring for the sick one is caring for Christ himself – Catholic health care should have some characteristics other than particular ethical decisions. If Catholic higher education should be grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition, then, I thought, Catholic health care would be grounded in the Catholic health care tradition.
And yet I’m stymied: I can’t find that over-arching view of the tradition anywhere. Before Ex Corde there wasn’t that much written in a general way about Catholic higher education; maybe we’re still waiting for someone to write such a definitive viewpoint for health care.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll be trying to create an anthology!