The second White Mass, for those involved
in the health care professions and the
voluntary care sector, was held in St. Andrew’sCathedral in Glasgow on 15th February 2009.
Archbishop Conti was the principal celebrant,
and Cardinal O’Brien and Bishop Logan were
also present. The music of the liturgy was led
by the St. Mungo Singers.
A new setting of Psalm 31 had been written by Fr. Gerry Fitzpatrick for the service. The healthcare theme of the Mass was reflected in Peter McGrail’s “Loving Saviour, Bread of Life”, Noel Donnelly’s “Song of Healing”, used as the Communion Antiphon, and his St. Peregrine Hymn, sung to the tune of “Hail Redeemer, King Divine” as the recessional (available on this site under St Peregrin).
Cardinal O’Brien noted in his homily that the Bishops’ Conference had instituted the White Mass to give the opportunity to all involved in healthcare to gather together annually for Mass, and to give us the chance to celebrate their contribution to Scottish society, at a time when perhaps there had never been so many difficult ethical decisions facing the healthcare professions. He reminded the congregation that those working in healthcare had been identified by Pope John Paul II as the guardians and servants of human life. The Christian response to illness has always been to seek to alleviate suffering.
The challenge to healthcare professionals today was to live and show these Christian values in the face of what he described as the current anti-life culture with its utilitarian approach, where arguments were made for the right to die but not the right to life. What was needed was more palliative care services so that the terminally ill could die with human dignity, rather than the option of assisted suicide.
Consideration should also be given by the Church to the provision of ethical and religious courses tailored for the needs of those in the health services.