September 23, 2020

When the Church opposed hygiene, vaccination and anesthesia | Science

When the Church opposed hygiene, vaccination and anesthesia | Science

After scrutinizing with patience the Santopedia, the only saints that can be found that were for doing some social good or work of public utility have been San Cosme and San Damián. Of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, perhaps, better not to speak, because he has accumulated even accusations of crimes against humanity for his attachment to suffering and pain. Of his patients, of course. The ecclesiastical contempt for palliative medicines is still something current.

And since we are talking about medicine, let's consider three fundamental medical issues for health that were developed at that time: hygiene, vaccination and general anesthesia. The three opposed the Church. With hygiene he went beyond and went beyond the limits of humanity. When an epidemic was declared throughout the eighteenth century, the first thing doctors prescribed was to quarantine the affected neighborhoods, isolating them even by force if necessary. The first thing the Church did was, as always, to summon prayers in cathedrals and churches, as well as a via crucis in multitudinous processions, to ask the Lord to intercede to achieve the cessation of divine punishment. The clamor of doctors before the madness of bringing people together was at least ignored. At the most, these were threatened so seriously that many paid the consequences. This happened in almost all of Europe, but of these ecclesiastical felonies was punctual record of the many events in my city of Seville. And, if we think that we are talking about very old times, we have to remember what the Church thinks about the use of condoms in Africa to mitigate the horror of the AIDS epidemic that they suffer there. Let's not indignant and let's go back to the 19th century, something that is difficult to do with a certain humor, because Napoleón Bonaparte was the main protagonist of his departure.

This was a magnificent military, great, maybe, and a scourge for Europe. The wars in which he was involved (we must express it that way, because not all of them provoked him) caused millions of deaths again. In addition, the cruelty with which it developed in many of them (perhaps the worst was the one of his ill-fated campaign in Egypt) made him an authentic genocide. However, to Napoleon we must recognize some positive things. On one side, the values ​​he promoted were those of the French Revolution (secularism, freedom, equality and fraternity). He ended up distorting them all by means of the military imposition of these. And the greatest disside was perhaps the fact of transforming the Republic into an empire and appointing monarchs here and there (especially his brothers). At the end of the operation, he accepted the papal monarchy as one more and, to top it all, established that it was supranational.

Consider three fundamental medical issues for health that were developed in the 19th: hygiene, vaccination and general anesthesia. The three opposed the Church

However rejected by their methods, these values ​​were taking root in Europe, even if they were in fits and starts. On the other hand, Napoleon clearly glimpsed the power of education, technique and science. The high schools of teaching, polytechnic and scientific that he ordered to organize were the canon on which many of them were organized in the European countries. The engineering was thus scientifically structured and science, in turn, was permanently embedded in the universities, with which it was possible to eliminate almost all the ecclesiastical power. The intellectuality of the Church was reduced to canon law, theology and little else. Although, yes, they did not resign, where they could (for example, in Italy and Spain), to continue controlling basic education as the most effective way of indoctrination and proselytism. The Jesuits did it effectively in the countries from which they had not been expelled, but to this they also devoted themselves eagerly to all the masculine and many feminine religious orders. They feared, rightly, that if the children were not indoctrinated, convincing the adults with arguments of the truth of the dogmas and beliefs of the Church would be impossible.

Of the four pillars on which the Christian churches were based, the theological had been cracked by the seventeenth-century scientists and the philosophers of the eighteenth century and the politician had damaged it, to a large extent, Napoleon, so they were not going to renounce the cultural and psychological. The most effective way to rely on these two columns was to imbue children with religious sentiments and the poor with help, hope and compassion. The Church dedicated herself to this with determination, without desiring, in any way, to monopolize all the political power that the circumstances of each country allowed, which, in many, were extraordinarily propitious for it.

Was the conflict between science and Christianity really eating away at the complex theology it had developed? Without a doubt, but, in addition, this woodworm had only just begun. Let's go ahead and what happened with the conflict: biology fatally wounded Christian beliefs in the 19th century; the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics they certified their settlement in the 20th century; and in the XXI we may be witnessing a new deism infinitely more human, profound and joyful than all the previous mysticism and transcendence. However, this is only from the theological point of view or, if you like, philosophical, because, from the other three, defeat is not seen with such clarity. In fact, if from politics we can not defend ourselves from the attacks of religions, we can still succumb to them and all the intellectual progress achieved can come down.

Let's go with the aforementioned death wound.

Excerpt from the work Sancho's dream, by Manuel Lozano Leyva, recently published by Editorial Debate.


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