The two-day conference preceded the celebrations for the World Day of the Sick, Feb. 11, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes. Never in the history of the eternal city had a similar event been organized. Participating in the jubilee celebrations were 35,000 people.
The Congress of prayer and reflection for Catholic health care workers called them to study the identity and challenges facing Catholics in health care, and to rediscover their own identity. Sessions took place in groups for each profession. Ten DCs from seven countries joined the session with over two-dozen Catholic doctors representing each continent.
Archbishop Lozano, president of the Pontifical Council, gave the opening remarks of the conference. He stated that now, with the globalization of health care, and the economic pressures on treatment, the Council would propose and affirm "a new model for practicing medicine, that has Christ as its goal, as its end, as its only horizon in which must be a fundamental Christian solidarity."
During the sessions, Gian Luigi Gigli, president of FIAMC, spoke of the need for physicians to be open to new ways of treatment and other professions. "Very often there is only a manifestation of rationalistic disgust, typical of the man of science closed in the ivory tower," he observed. "The same attitude is sometimes manifested toward new professions like, for example, chiropractors or acupuncturists, despite the fact that their modalities of intervention are much more understandable than those of traditional medicine."
There was a round table discussion from a continental experience by different medical physicians from Africa, Asia, South America, Europe and Oceania. Archbishop Lozano, referring to the Charter for Health Care Workers published by the Vatican, called upon the professional to be a guardian and servant of human life, and to have all activity based upon an interpersonal relationship of trust of conscience. He addressed our responsibility, individually and collectively, and how we are to respond to the patient. He called for education of the health care provider based upon a set of principles that support the mission of healing. He remarked that since chiropractic is an "acquired profession," it demands an appropriate level of education. To support chiropractic education is a very important issue, especially given the development of more nonaccredited chiropractic programs around the globe than accredited ones.
The following day was the plenary assembly of all the federations. During the meeting, Archbishop Lozano answered our question to the assembly. He called for a spirit of togetherness for the participation of all Catholic health care workers, including chiropractors, in the church's mission.
Following the assembly, all attended the opening ceremony in St. Paul's Basilica with the Holy Mass with the Sick.
On Fri., Feb. 11, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes, thousands attended the Solemn Jubilee Celebration with the Holy Father at St. Peter's Basilica. International groups supported the over 15,000 sick people who were carried from hospitals and homes from all over Europe. Numerous volunteer organizations attended to the sick, such as UNITALSI, (a Catholic Organization that organizes Marian pilgrimages for the sick), the Knights of Malta, other Catholic Aid institutions and the Red Cross.
During the presentation of the gifts at Mass, Dr. Gigli presented Pope John Paul II with a donation for his charity, Cor Unum. This gift included funds from the members of the Association for Catholic Chiropractors (AFCC). My husband Dmitri and myself, representing the AFCC, were among the doctors on the altar level.
During the rest of the afternoon and into the next day, thousands celebrated together. AFCC members partook in the candlelight Marian Procession through the Via Della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Square from Pizza S. Pio V, with the Rosary, Liturgical Prayers, and a Sound and Lights Feast at the Portico of the Basilica. The next day was the "Feast of the Joy and Hope" in Paul VI Hall, which was televised internationally.
During the entire week, all the doctors, medical and chiropractic, attended lunch together at the Nuova Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican City, the new building built for the College of Cardinals. AFCC and FIAMC members remained in Rome to visit the Holy Spirit Hospital, the oldest hospital in the city, built in the 12th century for pilgrims, and to visit its ancient library and science and medical museum.
The following day, members prayed with the archbishop at the Coliseum, where thousands have been martyred for their faith. In the afternoon, the doctors went to Mass and visited the catacombs of St. Sebastian.
The conclusion of the week was a meeting of chiropractors. Here we discussed the July 2000 vote, which would change the FIAMC constitution and allow for affiliation with the AFCC and participation in the PCPAHCW. Each doctor pledged to help bring forth the good news to their colleagues, associations and colleges.
For information on a pilgrimage to Rome in July 2000, the FIAMC meeting, membership in the AFCC, or for more details of the week with personal reflections, please call the AFCC, the Catholic doctors who attended, or check our website at www.afcc.net.