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Pope Francis with members of the Association against Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma Pope Francis with members of the Association against Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma   (Vatican Media)

Pope: Caring for the ill means caring for the whole person

Pope Francis addresses members of the Italian Association against Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma on the 50th anniversary since their foundation.

By Francesca Merlo

Pope Francis began his address to the association against Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma by reminding participants that in today’s liturgy, the Church invites us to read about the great gifts God has given humans. In quoting Sirch, the Pope says that after having created them “He filled them with knowledge and understanding and showed them the difference between good and evil”, and “He made knowledge available to them and gave them the Law as a source of life”.

Science

[Scientific] Knowledge, continued the Pope, “is a powerful tool for better understanding both the nature that surrounds us as well as for understanding human health.” The Church encourages all research and efforts that goes towards curing suffering people”, and for this reason, he said, “I am happy to express my appreciation for all that your Association has done over the past decades.”

The Pope went on the acknowledge that the Association’s main lines of action “are in fact very effective” with regards to scientific research, healthcare and the training of staff. In these three spheres, says the Pope, “you fulfill the roles that humans are called to”.

Lines of action

With scientific research, said the Pope, “you investigate the biological dimension of man, in order to relieve him from the disease… with increasingly effective therapies”. With healthcare, he continued, “you are close to the suffering, to accompany them in the time of difficulty, so that no one ever feels alone...” In addition, with the training of staff, he concludes, “you qualify your actions to promote a global care of the sick person...”

Pope Francis went on to compare the volunteers, who “accompany” the members of the Association, to Mary, who brought “much consolation” to Jesus on the Cross. This attitude, he said, is necessary when dealing with people suffering from such complicated illnesses.

You are not alone

The Pope went on to address those who are living through their illness in isolation, who may feel “detached from the world, from relationships, and from daily life”. He tells them that they are not alone; “The Lord, who has had the difficult experience of pain on the Cross”, is there beside them, he said.

Pope Francis referred to all those who share the Church’s closeness to those suffering from these illnesses: the chaplains, deacons, extraordinary ministers of communion, and the entire community of the faithful who “assist and console” the ill. He says they render Jesus’ desire concrete, because we are all one, “starting with the most weak and vulnerable”.

Curing the person

“The cure is not of the disease, of an organ or of cells, but of the person”, he continued. One’s spirituality is not exhausted in bodily concerns “but the fact that the spirit transcends the body means that it is included in a greater vitality and dignity, which is not that of biology, but that of the person and the spirit”.

Finally, the Pope assured the members of the Association present, that their “praiseworthy commitment can make each person more and more aware of the culture of giving and caring for the other”. This, he concluded, is essential for the life and wellbeing of every human community.

02 March 2019, 13:05