ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE IV SEMINAR ON ETHICS IN HEALTH MANAGEMENT
Monday, October 1, 2018
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:
I welcome you to this meeting and I thank Bishop Alberto Bochatey, OSA, Auxiliary Bishop of La Plata, President of the Health Commission of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, Mr. Cristian Mazza, President of the Health Consensus Foundation, and the that represent, for the opportunity of this seminar that, with the auspice of the Pontifical Academy for Life, is organized to address issues of the health field that have great importance in society, from an ethical reflection based on the Magisterium of the Church.
The world of health in general, and particularly in Latin America, lives a period marked by the economic crisis; and it can make us discourage the difficulties in the development of medical science and access to the most appropriate therapies and medicines. But the care of the brothers opens our hearts to welcome a wonderful gift. In this context I propose three words for reflection: miracle, care and trust.
Those responsible for the care institutions will tell me, rightly, that miracles can not be done and we must assume that the cost-benefit balance means a distribution of resources, and that the assignments are conditioned by an infinity of medical, legal, economic, social and political, as well as ethical.
However, a miracle is not doing the impossible; the miracle is to find a brother in the sick person, in the helpless one in front of us. We are called to recognize in the receiver of benefits the immense value of his dignity as a human being, as a child of God. It is not something that can, by itself, undo all the knots that objectively exist in the systems, but will create in us the willingness to untie them to the extent of our possibilities and, in addition, will give way to an inner change and mentality in us and in society.
This awareness - if it is deeply rooted in the social substrate - will allow the legislative, economic, and medical structures necessary to face the problems that arise. The solutions do not have to be identical in all moments and realities, but they can be gestated with the combination of public and private, legislation and deontology, social justice and entrepreneurship. The inspiring principle of this work can not be other than the search for good. This good is not an abstract ideal, but a concrete person, a face, who often suffers. Be brave and generous in the intentions, plans and projects and in the use of economic and techno-scientific means. Those who benefit, especially the poorest, will appreciate their efforts and initiatives.
The second word is careful. Healing the sick is not simply the aseptic application of appropriate medications or therapies. Not even its original meaning is limited to seek the restoration of health. The Latin verb "curare" means: attend, worry, take care, be responsible for the other, the brother. We would have to learn a lot about the "cures", because that is what God calls us for. The priests are to take care, to heal.
This provision of the health agent is important in all cases, but perhaps it is perceived with greater intensity in palliative care. We are living almost universally a strong tendency to legalize euthanasia. We know that when a calm and participative human accompaniment is made, the chronic serious patient or terminally ill patient receives this request. Even in those harsh circumstances, if the person feels loved, respected, accepted, the negative shadow of euthanasia disappears or becomes almost non-existent, because the value of his being is measured by his ability to give and receive love, and not by his or her productivity.
It is necessary that health professionals and those engaged in health care engage in a continuous updating of the necessary skills, so that they can always respond to their vocation as ministers of life. The New Charter of Health Care Agents (NCAS) is a useful tool for reflection and work for you, and is an element that can help in the dialogue between private and state, national and international initiatives and projects. This dialogue and joint work enriches concretely the health benefits and goes out to meet the many needs and health emergencies of our Latin American people.
The third word is confidence, which we can distinguish in several areas. First of all, as you know, it is the patient's own confidence in himself, in the possibility of being cured, because that is where a great part of the success of the therapy lies. No less important is for the worker to be able to perform his function in an environment of serenity, and this can not be separated from knowing that he is doing the right thing, as humanly as possible, depending on the resources available. This certainty must be based on a sustainable system of health care, in which all the elements that comprise it, governed by sound subsidiarity, support each other to respond to the needs of society as a whole, and of the patient in its uniqueness
Putting oneself in the hands of a person, especially when life is at stake, is very difficult; However, the relationship with the doctor or nurse has always been based on responsibility and loyalty. Today, due to the bureaucratization and complexity of the health system, we run the risk that the terms of the "contract" are those that establish this relationship between the patient and the health agent, thereby breaking that trust.
We must continue fighting to keep this link of profound humanity intact, since no health care institution can replace the human heart or human compassion (cf. Therefore, the relationship with the patient requires respect for their autonomy and a strong burden of availability, attention, understanding, complicity and dialogue, to be an expression of a commitment assumed as a service (see NCAS, 4).
I encourage you in your task of bringing so many people and so many families the hope and joy they lack. May our holy Virgin, Health of the Sick, accompany you in your ideals and work, and she who knew how to welcome Life, Jesus, in your bosom, be an example of faith and courage for all of you. From my heart, I bless you all. May God, Father of all, give each of us prudence, love, closeness to the sick in order to fulfill their duty with great humanity. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.
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TEXT SOURCE : Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation -
TEXT SOURCE : Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation -