By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Saturday encouraged people from different disciplines, cultures, societies and religions to reflect on and share their knowledge on healthcare and commit themselves to care for the sick and the suffering, particularly those experiencing social and cultural hardships.
He was speaking to some 500 participants at the end of their April 26-28 international conference in the Vatican that discussed the impact of science and new technology on society and culture.
Entitled “Unite to Cure”, the event was promoted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture in collaboration with the Cura Foundation, the Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest (STOQ) Foundation and the Stem for Life Foundation.
The event brought together experts in the fields of health, media, entertainment, technology, as well as faith-based organizations and government representatives.
Recommending prevention as the first step in health care, Pope Francis encouraged a balanced lifestyle and to think about the impact on health caused by smoking, alcohol consumption, and toxins released in the air, in the water and in the soil.
Repair and cure
Recalling the theme of “repair and cure” that the participants discussed, the Pope expressed satisfaction over new cures available especially regarding rare, autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases. Advances in cellular research and in the field of regenerative medicine, he noted, have opened new horizons in the areas of tissue repair and experimental therapies.
However, the Pope called for respect for the good of humanity and a sense of ethical responsibility in the field of genetics where, he said, it is “possible to modify our DNS.” While caring for the sick and suffering, he said, one must not forget the basic principle that “not everything technically possible or doable is thereby ethically acceptable”. The “true measure of progress” is one which is directed to the “good of every man and the whole man,” he said recalling Blessed Paul VI.
Prepare for future
In preparing for the future, Pope Francis reminded all about “our responsibility to one another and to all living creatures.” Human health, he said, needs to be considered also in our ability to preserve and protect the natural environment. He said every human being must be taken into consideration, especially those experiencing social and cultural hardships that endanger both their health and their access to adequate care.