We recently received the following email from a reader whose position on the superiority of natural/alternative methods is indicative of many people who write to our site looking for guidance. Although well-thought out and nicely articulated, there are important flaws in this argument which should be pointed out.
First, the text of the email:
I have been reading your articles on the various alternative medical therapies and I completely agree with you when it comes to the religious aspect of these practices. We as Catholics cannot participate in anything remotely suggesting integrating what they call “spirit” into physical healing when it involves their pagan religion.
I noticed in your articles, you often make references to the western medical community inferring them as the accepted and only legitimate institution for treating illness. Unfortunately it has become more & more evident that western medicine has in many if not majority cases engaged in unethical practices. They have evolved into big businesses entangled with big pharmacy & political lobby’s ensuring a most lucrative financial enterprise. They do indeed exploit unsuspecting & trusting patients to
debilitating & expensive treatments that at best, buy time. Western medicine now “manages” pain & illness rather than promotes prevention & any real cure.
It is our duty as Catholics to trust almighty God as well as be assured that His creation was given to us for our benefit. We have a duty to educate & protect ourselves & family members from greedy unethical medicine. Most medical associations now accept & promote abortion. Euthanasia, deviant sexual practices & transgenderism right on down to our children. This being fact, we can no longer trust their judgement on any therapies whatsoever.
Hippocrates said “let food be your medicine”. That method was practiced by St Brigid. We must not throw out “the baby with the bath water” ….try natural therapies first along with fervent prayer & reception of the Blessed Sacrament while attending holy mass. Resort to western medicine when necessary but do not see that as the be all & end all of modern medicine.”
Although I sincerely appreciate receiving respectful criticism such as this, I felt compelled to set the record straight on a few things.
First of all, I disagree that today’s doctors are in collusion with the trend to manage pain and illness, to turn medicine into a big business, and to use it to promote immoral practices such as abortion, birth control and euthanasia. This is a sweeping statement that certainly does not apply to the majority of doctors who are practicing medicine under tremendous duress due to restraints being placed upon them by either insurance companies or government regulation.
However, I do agree that there are far too many Catholic doctors out there who are prescribing birth control and recommending abortion, for which there is no excuse.
It is also seriously remiss to exonerate “natural cures” as being some kind of panacea filled with benevolent providers. Nothing could be further from the truth. My research has found that a majority of alternative practitioners are involved in other New Age/occult practices such as Reiki, acupuncture, muscle testing, and with a wide variety of untested methods. Unlike western medical treatments, which must be vigorously tested before being used on patients, “natural” practitioners are well-known for luring people into their establishments with inflated statements about the efficacy of their products without offering consumers any scientifically credible proof other than testimonials. Many of these methods are also based in religions that are not compatible with Christianity even though this is almost never disclosed to patients.
So if we’re going to hold doctors accountable for the many unethical practices that can be found in modern medicine, we must also hold the “natural” practitioners accountable for the critical role they play in the proliferation of New Age and occult-based practices as well as their unethical promotion of untested means.
As for the reader’s advice for Catholics to practice natural therapies first, this is against Church teaching. As this blog explains, we are required to use “ordinary” means (tested, scientific means) for anything contagious and/or life threatening.
Remember, God gave us natural methods, but He also gave us the science that has enabled us to improve our lives beyond what has ever been experienced on earth. The failure to apply that science to our health care not only disrespects the Providence of God, it also threatens to send us backward into the age of the “snake oil salesman” who sold all kinds of untested products to an unsuspecting public and were rarely held accountable.
We can do better than that now – and we must!