SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE ITALIAN FEDERATION MEDICI PEDIATRI
Hall of the Popes
Thursday, 21 March 2019
Speech of the Holy Father
Dear brothers and sisters,
I give you my warm welcome and greet you all. I thank the President for the words he addressed to me.
With the experience gained in these forty years of activity, your Federation supports and protects more than 5,500 family pediatricians, offering them competence and support from a professional and moral point of view, in the sphere of welfare and social security, as well as in the legal field and in the economic one. What you provide is a wide-ranging assistance, necessary to follow your affiliates in all the steps of their professional life, and useful to ensure that they can carry out their delicate and essential task with more serenity, as well as with greater competence. .
Already in its first steps, the Federation has distinguished itself for the contribution given to the birth of the National Health Service, and over the years has implemented countless initiatives for the health of people and the improvement of services offered to citizens, stipulating public and private agreements, maintaining in an autonomous and non-partisan way an active comparison with the political and social parts, and ensuring a control over many essential aspects of the health of the child and adolescent.
The age you are dealing with, from birth to adolescence, is undoubtedly the most evolutionary of human life, and requires global knowledge about the human body and its pathologies. It can be about understanding and managing heart and circulatory problems in a newborn child, or the digestive system in a ten-year-old child, or physical and mental issues related to puberty, and so on.
This very wide range of skills requires both in-depth basic training and constant updating. This is the aim of the many training and research initiatives that you strive to prepare, with meetings, debates and conferences, which can provide you with pediatricians the elements to keep you updated and, at the same time, promote a culture more capable of protecting the health of people, especially the little ones. In our time, where the many comforts and technological and social developments are paid with an increasingly invasive impact on the natural dynamics of the human body, it becomes urgent to implement a serious program of health education and lifestyles that respects the body, so that progress does not come at the expense of the person.
Your constant commitment in the areas of training, prevention and research has been recognized with the accreditation of your Federation as a scientific society. May you always operate with seriousness and dedication, making you promoters of a culture of solidarity and inclusive health. In our time, in fact, more and more often prevention and treatment become the prerogative of those who enjoy a certain standard of living, and therefore can afford it. I encourage you to work to ensure that this inequality does not add up to the many who are already afflicting the weakest, but the health system provides everyone with assistance and prevention, such as personal rights. In fact, attention to people, together with scientific competence, is an essential feature of your professionalism, of which the ability to listen, to understand and to inspire trust is also an integral part.
By virtue of the faith you have received, you are always called to take the person of Jesus, source of closeness and tenderness, as a model of humanity and dedication to others. Reading and re-reading the Gospel texts in which Jesus meets and heals the sick often, you always draw new life for your being and your action.
Even more than with children, your work puts you in constant contact with parents, the first custodians and managers of your patients. They not only ask for your medical expertise, but they also seek human security, entrusting you with what they hold most dear.
As for the relationship with the children you visit, they have powerful antennas, and they catch on the fly if we are well disposed or if we are distracted, because maybe we would have already finished the shift, or hurry faster, or find a patient who screams less ... You too are men and women, with your worries, but we know that you are also trained to smile, necessary to give courage and open a gap of trust in the little ones; and even medicines are more effective.
In dealing with children, we always keep in mind precisely the words of Jesus who, in a world in which they were little considered, indicates them as a model for those who become part of the Kingdom of God, because they understand its secrets. We also remember his singularly attractive attitude towards them: although he did not call them to him with invitations or gifts, he recalled them with the strength and serenity that flowed from his person, so that the children went to him and he welcomed them.
Your illustrious colleague and teacher, Dr. Franco Panizon, spoke of this unconditional dedication. He said: "Never happen to put your head on the pillow, unless you have done everything in your power for them!" He urged pediatricians to have a small but very important part in writing about culture and therefore the history of our time. For this reason he invited you to look "beyond", that is beyond sickness and contingencies, beyond the present moment, beyond one's own person or one's own effort. He also said: "Don't just think about your patient's today, but also think about his tomorrow"; and again: "do not think only of your patients, but also think of all patients; do not think only of those present, but also think of those who are distant and future ".
Lived with this inspiration, the work you do represents a real mission, which involves both the mind and the heart, and somehow knows no detaches, because although there are periods of vacation and breaks from work, your profession will always accompanies, and involves you much longer and deeper than during the hours you are at work.
With this style, you give Christian witness, because you seek to practice gospel values and your sense of belonging to the Church; but also for the breadth of your gaze, for the ability to imagine the social context and the health system most appropriate for the future, and for the desire to put you at the service, with humility and competence, of every person entrusted to you. In invoking God's blessing on your associative path and on each one of you, I ask you in turn a prayer for me. Thank you!