Dr. Carlos Everett practices in the city’s west side and his waiting room is adorned with Catholic art, including a large portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Jesus the physician, shown above.
Alfredo E. Cardenas, South Texas Catholic
For 15 years, Dr. Carlos Everett has wanted to organize a Catholic medical group in the Diocese of Corpus Christi. With the blessing and encouragement of Bishop Wm. Michael Mulvey his wishes are finally becoming a reality.
Bishop Mulvey recently approved formation of a medical guild under the diocesan structure, Deacon Stephen Nolte, director of the Office of Life, Justice and Human Dignity said. The bishop will be an ex-officio member of guild’s board and will name a chaplain to provide them spiritual guidance.
“I think the guild will be an outlet to help teach us, to remind us who we are as Catholics and that we don’t separate our faith and our practice, we need to integrate our faith and our practice,” Dr. Everett said. “We’re supposed to be witnesses.”
Everett said the original idea for a medical guild came in 1997 when Bishop Roberto O. Gonzalez, OFM asked him to organize a Guild of the St. Luke’s Society, an organization for Catholic physicians. Everett’s search for a model yielded no results. Ten years later, his spiritual advisor also asked Everett to organize a local Catholic medical group. But again, he was unable to find information to help in this effort.
With his appointment to the diocese’s Alliance for Life, Everett had the opportunity to meet Bishop Mulvey and asked the bishop for support with getting the group together. Bishop Mulvey agreed, and suggested that a White Mass for health care professionals be organized to get things going. Some 120 health care professionals attended the Mass on Oct. 18, 2011 on the Feast of St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians.
The second annual White Mass in the diocese is scheduled for Oct. 20, which will be preceded with a talk by a medical ethicist at CHRISTUS Spohn Health System. The organization of the medical guild will take a formal nature after that Mass. The group will also seek membership in the Catholic Medical Association, a national group dedicated to “uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine.”
The guild will be an outlet to help health care professionals that want to know more about their faith and how they can apply their faith in their practice in dealing with patients, Everett said.
“Physicians are often asked to prescribe contraception pills, tie tubes and perform sterilizations, and they do it. Many of us never had any formation; we lack formation in Church teaching on biomedical ethics. We received no training on ethics,” Everett said.
“Basically, bioethics is acknowledging the dignity of human life,” Everett said.
Everett hopes the guild can help educate fellow physicians on the whys of Church teaching in areas such as contraception, sterilization, abortion, in vitro fertilization, stem cells, etc. “We need, as health professionals, to speak up for what the Church teaches,” Everett said.
Doctors suffer from government mandates, much as the Church is confronted today with the Health and Human Services mandate requiring insurance providers to include contraceptives in their plans, even if they are contrary to the employer’s moral stance.
Everett said that some training programs in obstetrics and gynecology, for example, require medical students to learn to do abortions or be expelled from the program if they refuse on conscience. Everett lost the business of a chain pharmacy because he refused to provide the morning after pill. He was told he would have to refer patients to someone else, but he refused that request also because that would be “cooperating with evil.”
In addition to bioethics concerns, the guild will also assist healthcare professionals with the pastoral aspects of their practice. “We have to realize that sometimes we allow the business aspect to take over, we always have to extend Christ’s love to patients and treat them with dignity. We need to love our patients as brothers, as family,” Everett said.
As professionals, doctors tend to disassociate their feelings from the patient. “You want Christ in that examination room; He is the ultimate physician. We are only his instruments. God gives us the wisdom necessary to treat the patient better,” Everett said.
Everett hopes that one day doctors can overcome all the negative influences from the secular society to the point that someday the community can have Catholic healthcare clinics where there will not be any birth control provided, no abortions, no sterilizations and “bringing the love of Christ to the patient.”
“We cannot force our faith on others but at the same time we cannot ignore it,” Everett said.