SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE CONFERENCE PROMOTED BY THE DICASTERO
FOR THE LAITY, THE FAMILY AND LIFE
ON THE THEME "YES TO LIFE! - THE CARE OF THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF LIFE IN THE INSTITUTIONS OF FRAGILITY "
Saturday, May 25, 2019
Venerable brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning and welcome. I greet Cardinal Farrell and thank him for his words of introduction. I greet the participants at the international conference "Yes to Life!" Taking care of the precious gift of life in fragility ”, organized by the Department for the Laity, the Family and Life and by the Foundation" The Heart in a Drop ", one of the realities that work every day in the world to welcome children into birth conditions of extreme fragility. Children who, in some cases, the culture of waste defines "incompatible with life", and thus condemned to death.
But no human being can ever be incompatible with life, nor for his age, nor for his health, nor for the quality of his existence. Every child who announces itself in a woman's womb is a gift, which changes the history of a family: of a father and a mother, of grandparents and little brothers. And this child needs to be welcomed, loved and cared for. Always! Even when they cry, like that [applause]. Perhaps someone will think: "But, it makes noise ... let's take it away". No: this is a music that we all have to listen to. And I will say that he heard the applause and realized they were for him. We must always listen, even when the child annoys us a little; even in church: let the children cry in the church! They praise God. Never, never chase a child away because he cries. Thanks for the testimony.
When a woman discovers that she is waiting for a child, a sense of profound mystery immediately moves into her. Women who are mothers know this. The awareness of a presence, which grows inside her, pervades her whole being, making her no longer just a woman, but a mother. Between her and the child an intense cross-dialogue is established immediately, which science calls cross-talk. A real and intense relationship between two human beings, who communicate with each other from the first moments of conception to foster mutual adaptation as the child grows and develops. This communicative ability is not only of the woman, but above all of the child, who in his individuality sends messages to reveal his presence and his needs to the mother. This is how this new human being immediately becomes a child, moving the woman with all her being to reach out to him.
Today, modern techniques of prenatal diagnosis are able to discover from the first weeks the presence of malformations and pathologies, which sometimes can seriously jeopardize the life of the child and the serenity of the woman. The mere suspicion of the pathology, but even more the certainty of the disease, change the experience of pregnancy, throwing women and couples into profound distress. The sense of loneliness, of helplessness, and the fear of the suffering of the child and the whole family emerge as a silent cry, a call for help in the darkness of a disease, of which no one can predict the certain outcome. Because the evolution of every disease is always subjective and even doctors do not often know how it will manifest itself in the individual.
And yet, there is one thing that medicine knows well: children, from their mother's womb, if they have pathological conditions, are small patients, who can often be treated with pharmacological, surgical and extraordinary assistance, capable of reducing that terrible gap between diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities, which for years has been one of the causes of voluntary abortion and the abandonment of care at the birth of so many children with serious pathologies. Fetal therapies, on the one hand, and Perinatal Hospices, on the other hand, get surprising results in clinical-assistance terms and provide an essential support to families that welcome the birth of a sick child.
These possibilities and knowledge must be made available to all to spread a competent scientific and pastoral approach. For this reason, it is essential that doctors have clear not only the goal of healing, but the sacred value of human life, whose protection remains the ultimate goal of medical practice. The medical profession is a mission, a vocation to life, and it is important that doctors are aware that they themselves are a gift for the families entrusted to them: doctors capable of entering into a relationship, of taking on the lives of others, proactive of facing pain, able to reassure, to strive to always find solutions that respect the dignity of every human life.
In this sense, perinatal care comfort is a treatment modality that humanizes medicine, because it moves to a responsible relationship with the sick child, who is accompanied by the operators and his family in an integrated care path, which never abandons him, making him feel human warmth and love.
All this proves necessary especially with regard to those children who, at the present state of scientific knowledge, are destined to die immediately after birth, or a short distance of time. In these cases, treatment may seem like an unnecessary use of resources and further suffering for parents. But an attentive gaze knows how to grasp the authentic meaning of this effort, aimed at bringing the love of a family to completion. In fact, caring for these children helps parents to mourn and conceive it not only as a loss, but as a step in a journey together. That child will stay in their life forever. And they will have been able to love him. Many times, those few hours in which a mother can lull her child leave a trace in the heart of that woman, who never forgets it. And she feels - let me say the word - realized. You feel like mom.
Unfortunately the dominant culture today does not promote this approach: on a social level the fear and hostility towards disability often lead to the choice of abortion, configuring it as a practice of "prevention". But the Church's teaching on this point is clear: human life is sacred and inviolable and the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes must be strongly discouraged, because it is the expression of an inhuman eugenics mentality, which removes the possibility for families to accept , embrace and love their weakest children. Sometimes we hear: "You Catholics do not accept abortion, it is the problem of your faith". No: it is a pre-religious problem. Faith has nothing to do with it. It comes later, but it has nothing to do with it: it is a human problem. It is a pre-religious problem. We do not load on faith something that does not belong to it from the beginning. It's a human problem. Only two sentences will help us understand this: two questions. First question: is it legitimate to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Second question: is it permissible to rent a hit man to solve a problem? The answer is yours. This is the point. Don't go to the religious on something that concerns the human. It is not lawful. Never, ever eliminate a human life or rent a hit man to solve a problem.
Abortion is never the answer that women and families seek. Rather, it is the fear of illness and the loneliness that causes parents to hesitate. The practical, human and spiritual difficulties are undeniable, but precisely for this reason more incisive pastoral actions are urgent and necessary to support those who receive sick children. That is to say, it is necessary to create spaces, places and "networks of love" to which couples can turn, as well as devote time to accompanying these families. I am reminded of a story that I met in my other Diocese. There was a 15-year-old girl who became pregnant and her parents went to the judge to ask for permission to abort. The judge, a righteous man seriously, studied it and said: "I want to interrogate the child." "But he is down, he does not understand ..." "No no, let him come." The 15-year-old girl went, she sat there, started talking to the judge and he said to her: "But do you know what happens to you?" "Yes, I am sick ..." "Ah, and how is your illness ? "" They told me I have an animal inside that eats my stomach, and for this they have to do an operation "" No ... you don't have a worm that eats your stomach. Do you know what you have there? A child! "And the girl down said," Oh, how nice! ": So. With this, the judge did not authorize the abortion. Mom wants it. The years have passed. A baby girl was born. He studied, grew up, became a lawyer. That little girl, since she understood her story because they told her, every birthday day called the judge to thank him for the gift of birth. The things of life. The judge is dead and now she has become a promoter of justice. But look what a beautiful thing! Abortion is never the answer that women and families seek.
Thank you, therefore, to all of you who work for this. And thanks, in particular, to you families, mothers and fathers, who have welcomed fragile life - the word fragility must be emphasized - because mothers, and even women, are specialists in fragility: welcoming fragile life; and that you are now supporting and helping other families. Your testimony of love is a gift to the world. I bless you and bring you in my prayer. And I ask you to please pray for me.