Pope Francis on Friday spoke about the situations of “light and shadow” in the healthcare sector, thanking God for the “many healthcare professionals who live their work like a mission, with knowledge and conscience”.
The Holy Father’s words came in an address to the participants in a meeting promoted by the Charity and Health Commission of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) organized for the occasion of the 25th World Day for the Sick (11 February).
Pope Francis told the group of Italian healthcare professionals that there have been many social and cultural changes in the years since Pope St. John Paul II instituted the World Day of the Sick in 1992.
He said that today we see “a situation with lights and shadows”.
Regarding the “lights” in the field of healthcare, the Holy Father said, “Scientific research has certainly advanced and we are grateful for the precious results obtained for curing, if not defeating, some pathologies.”
He praised God for the missionary zeal of healthcare professionals who “are participants in the effusive love of the Creator God; with their hands they daily touch the suffering flesh of Christ”. He also expressed his joy for the numerous volunteers who seek “to relieve and humanize the long and difficult days of many sick and elderly people”.
Pope Francis went on to speak about the “shadows” in healthcare, which “risk endangering the experience of our sick brothers and sisters”.
“If there is a sector in which the throwaway culture makes most visible its painful consequences, it is exactly that of healthcare. When a sick person is not placed at the center and considered in their dignity, attitudes arise which can even lead to profiteering on other people’s misfortunes.”
The Pope made reference to his Message for the 25th World Day for the Sick, saying “In the first place is the inalienable dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until their last breath.”
He said monetary concerns should neither dictate political and administrative decisions, nor the selection of those who manage sanitary structures.
Pope Francis exhorted healthcare workers to “never hesitate even to rethink their works of charity in order to offer a sign of the mercy of God to the poorest who, in trust and hope, knock on the doors of your structures.”
Finally, the Pope said, “Sick people are precious members of the Church.”
“May they be strong in their weakness, ‘and receive the grace to fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church.’”
Those sufferings, he said, “are forever transfigured by love.”