.- A Catholic medical expert says he finds growing support for Church teachings among non-believers in the field of pediatrics, as shown by a recent secular journal that expresses love and care for the disabled.
The publicationââCurrent Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Careââdedicated an entire edition this year to the question of âThe Quality of Life of Young Children and Infants with Chronic Medical Problems.â
âThe edition is beautiful as it expresses in easy words the sense of love and acceptance of the life of the sick and disabled,â said Dr. Carlo Bellieni, a consultant for the Pontifical Academy for Life.
âAnd I think itâs particularly important as the articles are largely written by atheists and non-Catholics and yet they express what the Church teaches on abortion, accepting disabled babies and so on.â
Bellieni is a Director of the Neonatal Intensive Therapy Unit at Siena University Hospital and is an internationally recognized expert in the field of neo-natal care.
In a Nov. 2 interview, he explained the significance of some of the articles to CNA.
âFor instance,â he said, âAntoine Payot of the University of Montreal shows that the consequences of being born severely premature are not so disastrous as those who support neo-natal euthanasia say.â
Other experts featured in the publication are drawn from the universities at Stanford, Duke, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Kansas.
Professor Felicia Cohn of the University of California wrote about the quality of life enjoyed by her disabled daughter.
âAmanda is now a sweet, smart, giving little girl, who, like others her age, regularly cries âno fair!â in response to the distribution of toys or dessert,â she said.
From her daughter, Cohn said she has learned âwhat justice might look likeâa world in which all children may benefit from medicine as she did and all families are supported in making the difficult decisions about what constitutes that benefitâand that I have an obligation, as a health care professional, to work toward that vision.â
Bellieni said he believes the debate in medical ethics has moved on from simply âpro-lifeâ versus âpro-choice.â
He said the divide is now between those who believe in âsolidarityâ and those who prioritize âautonomy.â The latter option, he said, is not in fact freedom but merely âa form of loneliness.â
âThe Church is not only pro-life but also pro-solidarityâa word much loved by John Paul II and Benedict XVI,â he said.
A âwoman who chooses abortion has been left alone, therefore her decision is not free, and the person who chooses to withdraw treatment from newborn is often alone too,â Bellieni explained.
Those âwho believe the highest law is autonomy want to leave people aloneâthey want people to be left alone to choose in loneliness.â
âSo they would say the answer to the sick baby or sick fetus is to give you a sheet of paper with the option on it for you to put an 'x' next to your choice,â he noted. âThey call this autonomy but, as I said, this is actually loneliness. We say the true law is love and the true manifestation of that love is solidarity.â
Bellieni also highlighted another paper written by Professor Peter Ubel of Duke University, who summarized the arguments running through the edition.
Prof. Ubel observed that the âcompelling stories presented here suggest that the real borderline between moral and immoralâ is in fact the âspace between empathy and obliviousness.â
Bellieni said he believes this view reflects a growing trend among medical workers in the Western world. âAll this is very encouraging and inspiring, and should be highlighted,â he said.