By Vatican News staff reporter
Pope Francis has created a new body to help Catholic healthcare institutions carry out their mission in compliance with Catholic social teaching. The "Foundation for Catholic Health" was established on Wednesday with a Chirograph, which is an Apostolic letter, handwritten and with the signature of the Pope.
According to the letter, the new body will be entrusted with the task of offering “economic support to Church healthcare institutions, so that the charism of their founders is preserved,” they are included “in the network of similar and meritorious Church institutions”, and therefore can “operate for charitable purposes in accordance with Church's social teaching.”
The Pope’s decision comes in the light of financial difficulties faced by a number of Catholic health facilities run by religious orders, who are sometimes forced to sell them.
The new Foundation, reads the Chirograph, is an "institution connected to the Holy See" so that "it can operate under its sovereign authority” and as an “instrument of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which will provide for its governance and whatever is needed for its functioning ."
Pope Francis also approved the Statute of the Foundation, which will be headed by Archbishop Nunzio Galantino, President of APSA.
Ensuring economic stability
The statutory objective is to support and revamp health facilities owned or managed by ecclesial bodies, finding the necessary financial sources, including ones from private donors and public and private institutions.
The Foundation will be able to carry out any type of operation allowed by the legislation of the country in which these health facilities operate while complying with the teachings of the Social Doctrine of the Church and the principles of economic sustainability. In this way, Catholic healthcare institutions facing difficulties will be able to avoid hurried decisions.
"We want to avoid the risk of giving the impression that these institutions are elitist and are reducing treatment to all and for all," Archbishop Galantino explained to Vatican News.
Healthcare for all
Pope Francis emphasized the importance of healthcare for all in his first public appearance after his intestinal surgery in July. Before leading the recitation of the Angelus prayer from the balcony of the Gemelli Hospital, on 11 July, he remarked that during his hospitalization he experienced once again “how important is good healthcare that is accessible to all, like in Italy and in other countries”.
“This precious benefit must not be lost,” he said, noting that “at times” some Church healthcare institutions, “due to poor management” find themselves in financial difficulties and decide to sell."
“But the vocation of the Church," he pointed out, "is not to make money: it is to serve, and service is always free.”