Catholic medical professionals unite on the Feast of St Luke

By Josh Low

Past and present Catholic medical practitioners came together for a ‘White Mass’ held at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart, on 18 October, the Feast of St Luke – patron saint of doctors.

Traditionally held for those in the medical profession, the ‘White Mass’ was celebrated by Archbishop Julian, and saw the establishment of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Catholic Medical Association.

Archbishop Julian expressed his awareness of the difficulties Catholic medical practitioners face in navigating an “increasingly complex ethical environment”.

“Our Catholic faith and its tradition of moral theology provides us with clear ethical principles,” Archbishop Julian said.

“With the constant changes in medical practice there is a need for Catholic medical personnel to keep informed on a Catholic response to various ethical issues.

“It is fitting that on the Feast of St Luke, the Physician, we celebrate Mass for those in the medical profession [and] I hope this White Mass will become an annual event,” he said.

“I hope that this Mass is a source of encouragement for you, especially as you come to know that there are many others who hold similar views to yourselves; that there are other Catholics desiring to live out their Catholic beliefs in a challenging work environment.”

Office of Life, Marriage and Family Director, Dr Rachel Bradley, said the idea behind the Mass and evening was to unite Catholic medical and allied health professionals in prayer, as well as to kickstart a branch of the Catholic Medical Association in Tasmania.

“It’s sometimes called a white Mass as a reflection of the white coats traditionally worn by doctors,” she explained.

“There have always been difficult ethical decisions to be made in the practice of medicine but nowadays, as society drifts further and further away from God and even natural law, it is becoming much harder.

“[As medical professionals] we have the vocation to care for people in some of the most difficult periods of their lives.

“Our upholding of the value of each human person, regardless of their age, circumstances, or ‘usefulness’ to society, is a powerful witness to God’s love in the world, especially as our culture grows darker,” Dr Bradley said.

She added that establishing an association of Catholic medical professionals in the state will be a fantastic opportunity to share experiences and insights with each other.

“There is strength in numbers and when health professionals act or speak together as a group, as advocates for human life and the ethical treatment of all human beings, we are more efficacious,” she concluded.

The Catholic Medical Association Tasmania will be hosting its first event on 18 November with a talk by Dr Patrick Parkinson on ‘Freedom of Conscience in the Practice of Medicine’. The talk is open to non-CMA members. For more information, please contact

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