Catholic Medical Association announces new president


A Portland urologist and surgeon has been named the new president of the 1,000-member Catholic Medical Association (CMA).

Dr. Tom Pitre received his medical degree from the State University of New York in Brooklyn in 1970. He has served as president of the Oregon Urological Society, president of the Good Samaritan Hospital medical staff and as a delegate to the Oregon Medical Association.

“We physicians need to educate ourselves about the issues and about the teachings of the Church so we can apply them,” said Pitre in reference to the multiple ethical issues in the medical practice, such as embryonic stem-cell research, abortion, cloning and euthanasia, according to a report by journalist Ed Langlois. The CMA seeks to educate doctors on these matters in light of Catholic teaching.

“Even in Catholic medical schools, students don’t get taught this stuff,” said Pitre, a 60-year-old parishioner of St. Mary Cathedral.

For example, he said, most Catholic doctors know it is immoral to refer a woman for an abortion. But what about using vaccines derived from aborted fetuses?

He sees Oregon’s assisted-suicide law as a moral misstep by society and a tragic assault on the doctor-patient relationship, which is guided by the dictum in the Hippocratic Oath: “do no harm.”

According to Langlois, Pitre presented a paper in June during a national ethics symposium at the University of Portland on stem-cell research, cloning and human embryos.

“The rules for debate in our pluralistic society presuppose moral relativism, human autonomy and utilitarianism,” he told the symposium. “With these cultural presuppositions there is little room for moral arguments in the public forum but it is the moral principles involved that are what make these technological achievements the critical crossroad for our society today.”

In 2000, Pitre reportedly criticized advances in gene technology as driven by inclinations similar to the eugenics movement and the Nazi regime. He said the Church is one of few forces pointing out how dangerous it is to devalue life.

Pitre is married and is a Benedictine Oblate, a layperson devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict with faithful adherence to a particular monastery.

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