Pope Francis explains " It is precisely the closeness of love that opens the doors to hope, and also to healing." to Healthcare Congress - FULL TEXT

Paul VI Audience Hall
Friday, 11 September 2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning!
I warmly welcome you and thank you for this visit on the occasion of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society Annual Meeting . It offers me the opportunity to know and appreciate the commitment of your Association in favor of women who face such difficult and complex diseases. I thank your President, Prof. Roberto Angioli, who promoted this initiative, for the greeting.
I am pleased to welcome the representatives of various associations , especially among former patients, who favor sharing and mutual support. In your precious service, you are well aware of the importance of creating bonds of solidarity between the sick with serious illnesses, involving relatives and health workers, in a relationship of mutual help. This becomes even more valuable when confronted with diseases that can seriously jeopardize, or jeopardize, fertility and motherhood. In these situations, which deeply affect a woman's life, it is essential to take care, with great sensitivity and respect, of the condition - psychological, relational, spiritual - of each patient.
For this reason, I can only encourage your commitment to consider these dimensions as integral care, even in cases where the treatment is essentially palliative. In this perspective, it becomes very useful to involve people capable of sharing the healing journey by giving a contribution of trust, hope and love. We all know - and it is also proven - that living good relationships helps and supports the sick along the entire path of care, rekindling or increasing hope in them. It is precisely the closeness of love that opens the doors to hope, and also to healing.
The sick person is always and much more than the protocol - much more! - within which it is framed from a clinical point of view - and it must be done -. Proof of this is the fact that when the sick person sees their singularity recognized - your experience can confirm this - trust in the medical team and in a positive horizon grows further.
It is my desire, and I do not doubt yours too, that all this not only remain an expression of an ideal, but find more and more space and recognition within health systems. It is often rightly stated that the relationship , the meeting with the healthcare staff, is part of the treatment . What a great benefit it offers to the sick to have the opportunity to open their hearts freely and to confide in their condition and situation! Even the ability to cry with confidence. This opens up horizons and helps healing. Or at least, to endure the terminal illness well.
However, in concrete terms, how to develop this great need within the hospital organization, which is strongly conditioned by functional needs? Allow me to express sadness and concern about the rather widespread risk of leaving the human dimension of the care of sick people to the "good will" of the individual doctor, instead of considering it - as it is - an integral part of the treatment offered by health facilities .
The economy must not be allowed to enter so overwhelmingly into the world of health to the point of penalizing essential aspects such as the relationship with the sick. In this sense, the various non-profit associations that put patients at the center are commendable, supporting their needs and legitimate questions and also giving a voice to those who, due to the fragility of their personal, economic and social condition, are unable to be heard.
Of course, research requires a strong financial commitment, this is true. However, I believe that a balance can be found between the different factors. In any case, the first place must be given to people, in this case sick women, but also - let's not forget - the staff who work in close contact with them every day, so that they can work in adequate conditions, and also that they can have time to rest to regain strength to be able to move forward.
I encourage you to spread the precious results of your studies and research around the world in favor of the women you care for. Despite their difficulties, they nevertheless remind us of aspects of life that we sometimes forget, such as the precariousness of our existence, the need for each other, the senselessness of living focused only on oneself, the reality of death as a part of life itself. The condition of illness recalls that decisive attitude for the human being which is entrusting oneself : entrusting oneself to the other brother and sister, and to the Other with a capital letter which is our heavenly Father. And it also recalls the value of closeness , of becoming neighbor , as Jesus teaches us in the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf.Lk 10 : 25-37). How, how much a caress heals at the right moment! You know it better than me.
Dear friends, I wish you all the best in your work. Upon you and your families, your associates and those you care for, I invoke God's blessing. I bless you all. All, each with their own faith, their own religious tradition. But God is the One for all. I bless you all. I invoke the blessing of God, source of hope, strength and interior peace. I assure you of my prayers and - they say that priests always ask! - I finish by asking you to pray for me, because I need it. Thank you.