Pope thanks health professionals for their service to humanity
Pope Francis emphasises compassion and warns against extremes, as he meets with Italian healthcare workers.
By Francesca Merlo
In an audience with representatives of the Italian Federation of Paediatricians and the Italian Association of Hospital Otolaryngologists, Pope Francis conveyed appreciation for their service and highlighted the crucial role these healthcare professionals play in society.
Inspiring young couples
Addressing the paediatricians on Saturday, the Pope referred to children as “always a gift and a blessing from the Lord,” expressing hope for a reversal of Italy’s ageing trend by creating conditions that inspire confidence in young couples to embrace parenthood.
Reflecting on the work of ENT doctors, Pope Francis drew inspiration from the Gospel, noting Jesus’ compassionate approach to those who lived in isolation. He suggested, “I think that these gestures and words can be an inspiration to you,” emphasizing the importance of restoring connections and relationships within communities.
Pivotal role in times of crisis
The Pope acknowledged the pivotal role of healthcare workers, especially during the pandemic, recognising their dedication and sacrifice, stating, “Without the dedication, sacrifice and commitment of health workers, many more lives would have been lost.”
Expressing concern about the current state of Italy’s healthcare system, Pope Francis highlighted issues such as personnel shortages and the impact of the economic crisis on patient care. He warned against extremes in healthcare approaches, stating, “On the one hand, the pursuit of health at all costs, the utopia of eliminating illness… on the other, the abandonment of those who are weaker and more fragile.”
“A medicine”, the Pope stressed, “that renounces cure and entrenches itself behind dehumanised and dehumanising procedures is no longer the art of healing”.
The Holy Father stressed the importance of a compassionate approach in medicine, invoking the image of the Good Samaritan and emphasising, “The sick person must be approached with the attitude of the Good Samaritan… without allowing his heart and mind to be closed by prejudices, without thinking of his own benefit.”
Additionally, Pope Francis urged healthcare professionals to prioritise self-care and well-being, recognizing the immense stress they face, stating, “Action is needed to give dignity to your work and promote the best conditions for it to be carried out most effectively.”
Do not neglect yourselves
Bringing his discourse to a close, the Holy Father urged that “those who are called upon to take care of others must not neglect to take care of themselves”. He noted that in recent years, the resilience of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals has been put to the test. “Interventions are needed to give dignity to your work and promote the best conditions for it to be carried out in the most effective way”, he concluded.
Finally, the Pope invoked the intercession of the Virgin Mary and offered blessings to healthcare professionals and their families, requesting prayers for himself.