Pope Francis during his visit to the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza in 2018 Pope Francis during his visit to the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza in 2018  (Vatican Media)

Pope: Be close to those with cancer and support their families

Pope Francis pays tribute and offers encouragement to members of the Italian League for the Fight against Tumours, who are marking their recent 100th anniversary in assisting cancer patients and their families.

Vatican News staff writer

Meeting with the members of the Italian League for the Fight against Tumours, Pope Francis paid tribute to their century-long history in serving those struggling with cancer, along with the families who care for them. He noted how they have adapted to the changing times in society and health systems and served as a forerunner of modern-day palliative care. The Pope praised how the group has chosen over and over again to fight the battle against the disease together with patients and those who care for them, choosing to be a neighbor in the face of a culture of indifference.

The witness of commitment

Recalling how the pandemic has made the plight more difficult for those struggling with cancer due to overwhelmed health systems, Pope Francis said this not only calls for greater support for cancer patients delayed in receiving life-saving preventive and diagnostic care, but also families stressed by the consequences. Addressing these challenges as a social charity together with other public and private organizations offers an important testimony in the face of the indifference found in society that tends to exclude the weakest, especially the sick and elderly, the Pope observed, or that appreciates only the economic and productive value of the human person.

“Remember that the right to care and treatment for all must always be prioritised, so that the weakest, particularly the elderly and the sick, are never rejected. Life is a right, not death, which must be welcomed, not administered. And this ethical principle concerns everyone, not just Christians or believers.”

He also added words of encouragement to all to help maintain, advance and strengthen the Italian public healthcare system, saying it is a gift to society, while there are other countries where people are unable to pay for care or do not have a healthcare system.

Dignity even in suffering

"Even in suffering and illness we are fully men and women, without diminishment," the Pope underscored, recalling the words of St. John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris:

“If one becomes a sharer in the sufferings of Christ, this happens because Christ has opened his suffering to man, because he himself in his redemptive suffering has become, in a certain sense, a sharer in all human sufferings. Man, discovering through faith the redemptive suffering of Christ, also discovers in it his own sufferings; he rediscovers them, through faith, enriched with a new content and new meaning.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis encouraged the League members to persevere in their service to others, and prayed that Saint Leopold Mandić, patron saint of cancer patients, accompany them from heaven. 

04 March 2022, 12:17