Conference Seeks to Rediscover Identity of Catholic Hospitals

Initiative of Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2002 ( A Vatican conference this week will tackle a key question in health care: What is the identity of a Catholic hospital?

The 17th international conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers has the theme «The Identity of Catholic Health Care Institutions.» It will be held Thursday through Saturday.

Thirty-four specialists will examine the situation of Catholic hospitals and the economic, social, political, cultural and religious challenges they face around the world, said Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the council.

The meetings will also include reports from the federations, associations and groups linked to Catholic institutions that work in health care, Archbishop Lozano said at a press conference today.

In the second part of the conference, the archbishop explained, there will be a debate on the moral, pastoral and theological principles that underpin Catholic hospitals, and an interreligious dialogue with Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists.

In the third part of the conference, participants will ask what they can do to improve the identity of Catholic hospitals and to improve the economic, social, political, organizational and administrative aspects, the archbishop added.

Finally, the participants will offer solutions to improve the International Association of Catholic Health Care Institutions and the Catholic religious aspect «because this is really the principal objective of our international conference.»

Archbishop Lozano said that the Church administers 6,038 hospitals; 17,189 ambulatories; 799 leprosariums; 13,238 centers for elderly people, the chronically ill and the handicapped; 8,711 orphanages; 10,368 child-care centers; 10,565 marriage counseling centers; 18,789 specialized centers for education or social re-education; and 25,257 centers for health care ministry.

Catholic health-care institutions throughout the world total 110,954.

The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers is already organizing the next World Day of the Sick, which will be held in Washington, D.C., in February.

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