Pope: The dignity of the patient comes before sickness and profit
By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Monday urged Catholic healthcare operators to be outgoing and extrovert in order to testify in action that there are no lives that are unworthy to be discarded, and which is not prey to the demands of profit. “Every health care facility, especially those of Christian inspiration, should be a place where care for the person is practiced and where it can be said: ‘Here you do not see only doctors and patients, but people who welcome and help each other: here you can experience the therapy of human dignity’.” He made the remark to a delegation from the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital of Rome.
Founded in 1993, the Catholic institution was inspired by Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, a Spanish bishop of the Opus Dei prelature. The Pope noted that Blessed del Portillo had encouraged them to put the patient before the disease, which, he said, is essential in every field of medicine and is fundamental for a treatment that is truly comprehensive and human.
Science and research
Pope Francis also underscored the importance of science and research in medicine, saying “care without science is vain, just as science without care is sterile”. Science and research together, he said, make medicine an art, that involves the head and heart, combining knowledge and compassion, professionalism and pity, competence and empathy.
He thanked the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital delegation for favoring a humane development of research. He lamented the temptation to profit over the needs of the sick and the elderly in healthcare - needs which are constantly evolving with new diseases and inconveniences.
He commended the Campus for helping those who do not have the financial means to meet university expenses. He also mentioned its efforts such as the Covid Center, the Emergency Room, and the Hospice.
The Holy Father emphasized that all these efforts must be done together, saying the pandemic has underscored the importance of connecting, collaborating and addressing common problems together. Catholic healthcare particularly needs to network. “Charity requires a gift: knowledge must be shared, competence must be shared, science must be shared,” he said.
Tackling root causes
Offering science and its products alone, he warned, will remain just band-aids capable of plugging the evil but will not help cure it in depth. This is true, for example, with vaccines, he said, adding, it is urgent to help countries that have less, but it must be done with farsighted plans and should not be motivated only by the haste of wealthy nations to be safer. “Remedies must be distributed with dignity, not as pitiful handouts.”
Pope Francis concluded, encouraging the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital to continue on this path and be open to the inspirations and surprises of the Holy Spirit in its encounter with situations that require closeness and compassion.