GREENVILLE, S.C. – Doctors from around the world came to Greenville in late July to present the latest breakthroughs in helping improve women’s health, fertility and overall well-being.
On the theme “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Truth,” the 29th annual meeting of the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals was held in conjunction with the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb.
The conference, open to medical professionals and the general public, included three days of education about women’s health issues and fertility as well as building happy, healthy and holy families.
Topics ranged from “Adrenal Fatigue and Research Assessment and Connection to NaProTechnology” by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, director of Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, to “Family-Centered Chastity Education: The Family Honor Model” presented by Brenda Cerkez, executive director of Family Honor, a South Carolina organization that promotes family-centered programming on chastity and other issues.
“The conference has provided such a broad scope of topics relating to the theology of the body that virtually every participant will be able to take back to their ministry or family (some) spiritual, philosophical and intellectual treasures,” Cerkez said.
Expounding on the life theme of the meeting, Creighton-trained Dr. Ingeborg Collins, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Shelby, N.C., spoke on celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten, a type of protein commonly found in grains such as rye, barley and wheat.
Collins said it is hard to detect the disease because the symptoms may vary, but studies have shown a correlation with problems such as increased rate of infertility, increased rate of miscarriages, delayed menses and early menopause.
Celiac disease affects 20 percent of those of Irish descent, according to research.
In his keynote address on “Christianity and Culture,” Father Dwight Longenecker, an author and pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, spoke about the different ways people see Christ and themselves as Christians interacting in the current culture.
“Following the footsteps of our Lord Jesus, we are called to be in this world but not of this world,” he said. “Sometimes we are in conflict with culture and sometimes the relationship is easier.”
Father Longenecker challenged the participants to continue to live in that tension as Christians and encouraged the medical professionals in their work, saying it can lead to a transformation of the culture.
Sister Renee Mirkes, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and director of the Pope Paul VI institute’s Center for NaPro Ethics, spoke about how medical professionals can protect their rights to conscientious objection in health care, a topic of grave concern with the new health reform bill.
She urged them to understand the nature of a well-formed conscience and its rightful exercise; follow all reasonable American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists requirements for conscientious refusal, including comprehensive notification of what medical services they offer and what they don’t; and exercise a political strategy to protect health care conscience rights.
“Studying human nature and its needs lead us to certain conclusions,” Sister Mirkes said. She went on to say that medical professionals should not have to violate natural law by being forced to do procedures or take action against their formed conscience.
Art Bennett, an author and marriage therapist who recently was named president and CEO of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Arlington, Va., gave two talks to help couples understand each other. “Marriage and Temperament” provided practical tools for spouses to improve marital communication by learning about each other’s temperament – which falls in four main categories: choleric, sanguine, melancholic or phlegmatic.
“Understanding our temperament helps us grow in self-knowledge, improves our relationship with our spouse and can deepen our spiritual life,” he said.
In a talk on “The Impact of Pornography on the Person and the Family,” Bennett refuted the argument that pornography and sexual addiction do not hurt anyone.
“The biggest victim of sexual problems is the family,” he said, adding that pornography has been found to hurt intimacy between spouses, cause neglect or abuse of children, hurt vocations and affect job performance. He also provided resources for people struggling with the addiction.