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ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE MEMBERS OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL

FOR HEALTH PASTORAL CARE


Thursday, 2 May 2002
Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am particularly pleased to have this meeting during the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for
Health Pastoral Care that offers you the occasion to examine and draft a new plan of work for the next five
years. I greet the President of the Council, Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragn and thank him for his cordial
words expressing your sentiments of esteem. I greet the Cardinals and my Brothers in the Episcopate, the
members, consultors and experts of the Council, the Secretary and the Undersecretary as well as the other
officials, priests, religious and lay people. I thank you all for the precious help you give me in such a critical
area of our Gospel witness.
2. The great amount of work that your Council has accomplished in the 17 years since its foundation confirms
how necessary it is that among the offices of the Holy See there should be one that is specifically designated to
manifest "the Church's concern for the sick, assisting those who serve the sick and the suffering, so that the
apostolate of mercy on which they rely may respond ever better to the new needs" (Apostolic
Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 152). Let us thank the Lord for the wide range and variety of pastoral activities
carried out in the field of health care around the world with the stimulus and support of your Council. I
encourage you to continue in that direction with zeal and confidence, so that you can offer to the people of our
time the Gospel of hope and mercy.
3. Taking a cue from the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, at your meeting you plan to reflect on the
best way to reveal the suffering and glorious face of Christ enlightening the world of health care, suffering and
illness with the Gospel, sanctifying the sick and health-care workers and promoting the coordination of pastoral
health care of sick persons in the Church. During this Easter season, we contemplate Jesus' glorious face after
meditating, especially in Holy Week, on his sorrowful face. It is in these two dimensions that we find the core
of the Gospel and of the Church's pastoral ministry. I wrote in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte that
Jesus "at the very moment when he identifies with our sin, "abandoned' by the Father, he "abandons' himself
into the hands of the Father". In this way he lives "his profound unity with the Father, by its very nature a
source of joy and happiness, and an agony that goes all the way to his final cry of abandonment" (n. 26).
In the suffering face of Good Friday is hidden the life of God, offered for the salvation of the world. Through
the Crucified One, our contemplation must be open to the Risen One. Comforted by this experience the Church
is ever ready to continue her journey to proclaim Christ to the world.
4. Your plenary assembly focuses on programmes that aim at enlightening the entire world of health care with
the light of the sorrowful and glorious face of Christ. In this perspective, it is crucial to reflect more in depth on
topics that are bound up with health care, sickness and suffering, guided by a concept of the
human person and his destiny that is faithful to the saving plan of God. The new frontiers opened up by
progress in the sciences of life and the applications deriving from them, have put enormous power and
responsibility in man's hands. If the culture of death prevails, if in the field of medicine and biomedical
research those doing the research let themselves be conditioned by selfish and Promethean ambitions, it is
inevitable that human dignity and life itself will be dangerously threatened. However, if work in the important
health care sector is shaped by the culture of life, under the guidance of right conscience, the human being will
find an effective response to his deepest longings. The Pontifical Council will not fail to contribute to a new
evangelization of suffering, that Christ takes on and transfigures in the triumph of the Resurrection. In this
regard, the life of prayer and recourse to the Sacraments are essential, for without them the spiritual journey of
the sick and of those who take care of them becomes difficult.
5. Today, the sector of health care and suffering face new and complex problems that demand a generous
commitment from everyone. The dwindling number of women religious involved in this field, the difficult
ministry of hospital chaplains, the problem of organizing a satisfactory and effective health care apostolate at
the level of the local Churches and the approach to health-care personel who are not always in accord with the
Christian vision, form a plethora of complex and problematical topics that you have certainly noticed. Faithful
to its mission, your Council will continue to show the pastoral concern of the Church for sick people, it will
help all who care for the suffering, and particularly those who work in hospitals, always to respect the life and
dignity of the human being. To achieve such objectives it will be useful to collaborate generously with the
international organizations concerned with health care.
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May the Lord, the Good Samaritan of suffering humanity, help you always. May the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Health of the Sick, sustain you in your service and be your model of acceptance and love.
As I assure you of my prayers, I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.
ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE 17th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE
IDENTITY OF CATHOLIC HEALTH CARE INSTITUTIONS
Thursday, 7 November 2002
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am glad to meet you on the occasion of the 17th International Conference organized by the Pontifical
Council for Health Pastoral Care. I cordially greet each of you. I extend a special greeting to Archbishop Javier
Lozano Barragn, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care whom I thank for the kind words
of respect he spoke in your name and for his overview of the goals of your conference. I am pleased that your
Dicastery promotes this annual initiative that is an important chance for reflection, debate and dialogue
between the ecclesial and the civil world on such a priority goal as health.
The theme of the present Conference - "The Identity of Catholic Health Care Institutions" -has great relevance
for the life and mission of the Church. In fact, in carrying out the work of evangelization, in the course of the
centuries, the Church has always associated the assistance and care for the sick with the preaching of the Good
News (cf. Motu proprioDolentium hominum, n. 1).
2. Following closely the teaching of Christ, the divine Physician, several saints of charity and of hospitality,
such as St Camillus of Lellis, St John of God, St Vincent de Paul established hospices for the recovery and care
of the sick, anticipating what would later become modern hospitals. The network of Catholic social and health
care institutions was gradually created as a response of solidarity and charity by the Church to the mandate of
the Lord, who sent the Twelve to proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal the sick (cf. Lk 9,6).
In this perspective, I thank you for the steps you are taking to put fresh life into theConfederatio internationalis
catholicorum hospitalium (International Confederation of Catholic hospitals) a valid organism for responding
better to the many questions that arise in the minds of those who are involved on many fronts in the world of
health care. For this reason, I encourage the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care to sustain the work
realized by the Confederation so that the service of charity that is carried out in Catholic hospitals will be
constantly inspired by the Gospel.
3. To understand the identity of such health care institutions fully, one must go to the heart of what the Church
is, whose supreme law is love. Catholic health care institutions thus become powerful witnesses to the charity
of the Good Samaritan because, in caring for the sick, we fulfill the Lord's will and contribute to realizing the
Kingdom of God. In this way they express their true ecclesial identity.
It is right to review from this point of view "the role of hospitals, clinics and convalescent homes.... These
should not merely be institutions where care is provided for the sick or the dying.
Above all they should be places where suffering, pain and death are acknowledged and understood in their
human and specifically Christian meaning. This must be especially evident and effective in institutes staffed by
religious or in any way connected with the Church" (Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, n. 88).
4. In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, referring to so many needs in our time that challenge
Christian sensitivity, I recalled those who lack even the most basic medical care(cf. n. 50). The Church looks
with particular concern to these brothers and sisters allowing herself to be inspired by a new "creativity in
charity' (cf. ibid.) I hope that Catholic health care institutions and public health care institutions may be able to
collaborate effectively, united by the common desire to serve the human person, especially, the weakest and
those who, in fact, are not socially insured.
Dearly beloved, with such good wishes, I entrust all of you to the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, Health of the Sick, while, with every best wish for the fruitfulness of your ecclesial service and your
professional activity, I wholeheartedly impart to you, to your families and to those who are dear to you, a
special Apostolic Blessing.
HOMILY OF ARCHBISHOP JAVIER LOZANO BARRAGN
Washington National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Tuesday, 11 February 2003
Your Eminences, Excellencies,
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dear priests and religious sisters, Brothers and Sisters,


It is for me a great honor to represent the Holy Father John Paul the Second in this 11th World Day of the Sick.
It is my duty to bring to you His blessings and greetings. His living testimony of pain and joy, reflect the
painful and joyful face of Christ and give us the courage to overcome illness as well as death, through the solid
hope of the resurrection, and to proclaim together with the Pope the Gospel of Life.
May I extend my cordial greetings to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the United States, and to the other 23
Conferences of Bishops of the American Countries, represented here at this memorable celebration of the 11th
World Day of the Sick. The World Day of the Sick obviously concerns the whole world, but the choice to
celebrate it in America, corresponds to the expressed desire of the Pope to have it every year on a different
continent. This year, it was America's turn, and it marks the second celebration in America, since the first one
was 7 years ago at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico City.
In agreement with the Holy Father, we had proposed to celebrate it either in Argentina or in the United States.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the United States warmly accepted the proposal and made all the
necessary arrangements for the celebration. We particularly thank Bishop Fiorenza, former President of the
Catholic Bishops' Conference of the United States, and Bishop Gregory, the current President, both of whom
worked with great enthusiasm for the realization of this event. Our greetings and very special thanks go to the
Archdiocese of Washington and her worthy and dynamic Pastor, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Together with
his team, under the direction of Fr Michael Place, president of Catholic Health Association of the United States
of American, and Dr Jane Belford, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, they shouldered the great and hard work of
making the project of the 11th World Day of the Sick a reality. I would like to convey to Your Eminence and
your team, the sincere and heartfelt thanks, both of the Holy Father and the Pontifical Council for Health
Pastoral Care.
May I also cordially greet all of you, priests, religious sisters, who are particularly involved in the Health Care
Ministry, all health professionals, workers, volunteers of all America, and all of you my dear sisters and
brothers present at this National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is a great honor to be with you
working together for the good of our brothers and sisters, who are suffering under all kinds of sorrow, and for
the good of the entire world plagued by suffering and pain, which often remind us of the reality of death. You,
as an active part of the Church, are always engaged in finding adequate answers to great and important
problems of mankind, namely: illness, pain, suffering, all kinds of evil, and death. Our world often neglects
those problems and wishes to cover them up with a smoke-screen, or simply hide them. We are here to face
them courageously and offer effective solutions. This is the ministry of the Church; this is the meaning of
redemption and salvation. The Pontifical Council looks at the core of the problem and offers its collaboration in
the effort of finding lasting solutions, through its specific task of Pastoral Health Care. In this year's message
for the World Day of the Sick, the Pope opens with a quotation from the first Letter of St John, where the
Apostle tells us that: "We ourselves have seen and testify that the Father sent His Son, as Savior of the World
... and we have recognized ourselves and believe in the Love God has for us" (I Jn 4,14-16).
We are therefore, celebrating the World Day of the Sick under the sign of love. However, this celebration is not
only a commemoration or an occasion to remember that all people must be compassionate towards the
suffering world; that would be good, but still wanting. We have the power, not only to be compassionate, but
also effectively to take away the sorrow and the anguish of this world. This is exactly our task in the liturgical
celebration of the 11th World Day of the Sick. In the Holy Mass we have the experience of the whole of
salvation.
According to our faith, here in the holy Sacrifice we offer to the world the only true solution to evil; in a word,
the only solution to death. We don't hide death or minimize it; we know it as the greatest evil there is, but in the
reality of the Mass as memorial of the Lord's Death and Resurrection, death becomes a fountain of life and
happiness.
Today we often speak of the quality of life. In the Eucharist our life receives its true quality; here we find the
authentic quality of life. Our quality of life consists in breaking through the dark limits of death and acquiring a
life forever. The true quality of life ensues from our participation in the mystery of Christ, enabling us to be a
reflection of the face of Christ, joyful and sorrowful at the same time. It is the victory of the paradox: The
victory over death through the same death. In the Easter Liturgy we sing: "Death and life have contended in
that combat stupendous: The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal" (Sequence of the Easter Sunday and the
Octave). In the mystery of faith and charity, Christ takes our sorrows and converts them into happiness; but the
condition is that we must fervently awaken the virtue of hope. In this way, we become members of the Body of
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Christ, and the whole Church with her head, Christ, assumes the death of mankind and converts it into
resurrection. This exactly constitutes Health Pastoral Care. This is the all-powerful love of God that from the
"guilty nothing" of humanity on the cross creates again the new humanity in the full life of the resurrection of
Christ. If we ask ourselves about the identity of Catholic Health Pastoral Care, this paradox is the
distinguishing mark for the Institutions and people that wish to be considered as Catholic health care
professionals or workers.
The last hurdle is death, which causes trouble and disharmony. If death is destroyed we will have harmony and
peace. By destroying death we will foster life and health. We will have life because harmony builds unity, and
life is unity while death is disintegration. This is the reason why health is a tension towards harmony. So health
pastoral care or ministry is a way of achieving harmony, unity, peace, life and health.
The way that leads to harmony is a long one. It means following the footsteps of Christ in building the human
person. Therefore, the rule of Health Care Ministry is the continuous building of the person. In this way we can
enunciate the main principle of Christian ethics What builds man is good, what destroys him is bad. As I said
before, the paradox is that the only way by which death could build the human person is by accepting it and
being with Christ on the cross. This is the only way, through which death can be converted into a fountain of
life and resurrection.
Therefore, because through this Eucharistic Memorial on the 11th World Day of the Sick, we are in
communion with Christ who died and rose, we are gathered here not just to awaken in us sentiments of
compassion for suffering mankind, but to give the world the only way to overcome its sorrows, pains and
sufferings. This is the mystery we are celebrating in the Eucharist and in the Anointing of the Sick that we will
soon celebrate.
We are celebrating the World Day of the Sick on the day commemorating the apparitions of Our Lady in
Lourdes; in those apparitions she said, she was the Immaculate Conception ("Soy era la Inmaculada
Concepcion"). And we are gathered here at the National Shrine of the United States, properly dedicated to the
Immaculate Conception of Mary. This is a very appropriate setting for the meaning of our celebration.
In fact, the Immaculate Conception means the beginning of the creation of the perfect woman, Mary, whom
God had in His eternal plan. In virtue of the grace of Christ, she is the model of human harmony, unity, life and
health. Because of Her Immaculate Conception, her harmony is due to the full reception of the love of the Holy
Spirit. May she pray for us, so that we may receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the strength of the
resurrection of Christ. The love of the Holy Spirit gives us the unique capacity to believe, to overcome the
paradox of death and to communicate with Christ, the only way to obtain the true health. So we ask Mary,
because of Her Immaculate Conception, to pray for us, that we may lavishly receive the Holy Spirit, to help us
give to the world a credible testimony of how to overcome death and obtain the true health. With the love of the
Spirit and the intercession of Mary, we will understand better that only with faith, charity and hope can we
overcome death and obtain true health. In this way, we can arrive at the root of all life and have the solid
conviction that only love is credible.
ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE 19th INTERNATIONAL
CONFERENCE OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH PASTORAL CARE
Friday, 12 November 2004
Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the International Conference of the Pontifical Council for
Health Pastoral Care which is taking place at this time. With your visit, you have wished to reaffirm your
scientific and human commitment to those who are suffering.
I thank Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragn for his courteous words on behalf of you all. My grateful thoughts and
appreciation go to everyone who has made a contribution to these sessions, as well as to the doctors and healthcare workers throughout the world who dedicate their scientific and human skills and their spirituality to
relieving pain and its consequences.
2. Medicine is always at the service of life. Even when medical treatment is unable to defeat a serious
pathology, all its possibilities are directed to the alleviation of suffering. Working enthusiastically to help the
patient in every situation means being aware of the inalienable dignity of every human being, even in the
extreme conditions of terminal illness. Christians recognize this devotion as a fundamental dimension of their
vocation: indeed, in carrying out this task they know that they are caring for Christ himself (cf. Mt 25: 35-40).
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"It is therefore through Christ, and in Christ, that light is thrown on the riddle of suffering and death which,
apart from his Gospel, overwhelms us", the Council recalls (Gaudium et Spes, n. 22).
Those who open themselves to this light in faith find comfort in their own suffering and acquire the ability to
alleviate that of others. Indeed, there is a directly proportional relationship between the ability to suffer and the
ability to help those who are suffering.Daily experience teaches that the persons most sensitive to the suffering
of others and who are the most dedicated to alleviating the suffering of others are also more disposed to accept,
with God's help, their own suffering.
3. Love of neighbour, which Jesus vividly portrayed in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10: 2ff.),
enables us to recognize the dignity of every person, even when illness has become a burden. Suffering, old age,
a comatose state or the imminence of death in no way diminish the intrinsic dignity of the person created in
God's image.
Euthanasia is one of those tragedies caused by an ethic that claims to dictate who should live and who should
die. Even if it is motivated by sentiments of a misconstrued compassion or of a misunderstood preservation of
dignity, euthanasia actually eliminates the person instead of relieving the individual of suffering.
Unless compassion is combined with the desire to tackle suffering and support those who are afflicted, it leads
to the cancellation of life in order to eliminate pain, thereby distorting the ethical status of medical science.
4. True compassion, on the contrary, encourages every reasonable effort for the patient's recovery. At the same
time, it helps draw the line when it is clear that no further treatment will serve this purpose.
The refusal of aggressive treatment is neither a rejection of the patient nor of his or her life. Indeed, the object
of the decision on whether to begin or to continue a treatment has nothing to do with the value of the patient's
life, but rather with whether such medical intervention is beneficial for the patient.
The possible decision either not to start or to halt a treatment will be deemed ethically correct if the treatment is
ineffective or obviously disproportionate to the aims of sustaining life or recovering health. Consequently, the
decision to forego aggressive treatment is an expression of the respect that is due to the patient at every
moment.
It is precisely this sense of loving respect that will help support patients to the very end. Every possible act and
attention should be brought into play to lessen their suffering in the last part of their earthly existence and to
encourage a life as peaceful as possible, which will dispose them to prepare their souls for the encounter with
the heavenly Father.
5. Particularly in the stages of illness when proportionate and effective treatment is no longer possible, while it
is necessary to avoid every kind of persistent or aggressive treatment, methods of "palliative care" are required.
As the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae affirms, they must "seek to make suffering more bearable in the final
stages of illness and to ensure that the patient is supported and accompanied in his or her ordeal" (n. 65).
In fact, palliative care aims, especially in the case of patients with terminal diseases, at alleviating a vast gamut
of symptoms of physical, psychological and mental suffering; hence, it requires the intervention of a team of
specialists with medical, psychological and religious qualifications who will work together to support the
patient in critical stages.
The Encyclical Evangelium Vitae in particular sums up the traditional teaching on the licit use of pain killers
that are sometimes called for, with respect for the freedom of patients who should be able, as far as possible,
"to satisfy their moral and family duties, and above all... to prepare in a fully conscious way for their definitive
meeting with God" (n. 65).
Moreover, while patients in need of pain killers should not be made to forego the relief that they can bring, the
dose should be effectively proportionate to the intensity of their pain and its treatment. All forms of euthanasia
that would result from the administration of massive doses of a sedative for the purpose of causing death must
be avoided.
To provide this help in its different forms, it is necessary to encourage the training of specialists in palliative
care at special teaching institutes where psychologists and health-care workers can also be involved.
6. Science and technology, however, will never be able to provide a satisfactory response to the essential
questions of the human heart; these are questions that faith alone can answer. The Church intends to continue
making her own specific contribution, offering human and spiritual support to sick people who want to open
themselves to the message of the love of God, who is ever attentive to the tears of those who turn to him (cf. Ps
39: 13). Here, emphasis is placed on the importance of health pastoral care in which hospital chaplaincies have
a special role and contribute so much to people's spiritual well-being during their hospital stay.
Then how can we forget the precious contribution of volunteers, who through their service give life to
that creativity in charity which imbues hope, even in the unpleasant experience of suffering? Moreover, it is
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through them that Jesus can continue today to exist among men and women, doing good and healing them (cf.
Acts 10: 38).
7. Thus, the Church makes her own contribution to this moving mission for the benefit of the suffering. May
the Lord deign to enlighten all who are close to the sick and encourage them to persevere in their different roles
and various responsibilities. May Mary, Mother of Christ, accompany everyone in the difficult moments of
pain and illness, so that human suffering may be raised to the saving mystery of the Cross of Christ.I
accompany these hopes with my Blessing.
ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II TO THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH PASTORAL
CARE
Friday, 21 January 2005
Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I offer you my cordial greeting, with a special thought of gratitude for Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragn, who
has expressed your common sentiments. Your Plenary Assembly is taking place on the 20th anniversary of the
foundation of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers, established in 1985 with
the "Motu Proprio" Dolentium Hominum. Consequently, this is a particularly favourable opportunity to thank
the Lord for the good achieved by the Pontifical Council at the service of the dissemination of the Gospel of
Christian hope in the vast world of the suffering and of those who are called to care for them.
2. May this moment also become for you an effective incentive to renew your commitment to putting into
practice your programmes "to spread, explain and defend the Church's teachings on the subject of health care,
and to encourage their penetration into health-care practices", as the "Motu Proprio" Dolentium Hominum says
(n. 6). Indeed, it is your Dicastery's task toguide, sustain and encourage all that is promoted in this field by the
Bishops' Conferences and by Catholic Organizations and Institutions for professionals in medicine and in
health-care promotion.
In this regard, it is comforting to think of all the pastoral work that the Dicastery is able to carry out
with harmonious and specific animation, linked to the Bishops' Conferences and Catholic Organizations, "to
promote and spread an ever-better ethical-religious formation of Christian health-care workers in the world,
keeping in mind the different situations and specific problems which they must face in carrying out their
profession... to safeguard essential values and rights connected with the dignity and the supreme destiny of the
human person" (Dolentium Hominum, n. 5).
In her pastoral action, the Church is called to face the most delicate and unavoidable issuesthat well up in the
human heart in the face of suffering, illness and death. It is from faith in Christ who died and rose that these
issues can draw the comfort of the hope that does not disappoint. Today's world, which often does not possess
the light of this hope, suggests solutions of death. Hence, there is the urgent need to promote a new
evangelization and a strong witness of active faith in these vast secularized areas.
3. The Pontifical Council, therefore, does well to focus its reflections and programmes on thesanctification of
illness and the special role of the sick in the Church and in the family, by virtue of the living presence of Christ
in every suffering person. From this viewpoint, the year dedicated to the Eucharist is an appropriate opportunity
for a more intense pastoral commitment in the administration of both Viaticum and the Anointing of the Sick.
By fully configuring patients to Christ who died and rose, these sacraments enable sick persons themselves as
well as the community of believers to experience the comfort that comes from supernatural hope.
Properly enlightened by the words of the priest and of those who assist him, the sick person can joyfully
discover the particular mission entrusted to the sick in the Mystical Body of the Church: united with the
suffering Christ, each one can cooperate in the salvation of humanity, making the most of his or her prayers
with the offering up of one's suffering (cf. Col 1: 24).
4. This must not, however, dispense Church leaders from paying stimulating and active attention to the
structures where sick people sometimes suffer forms of marginalization and a lack of social support. Church
leaders must also extend this attention to the areas of the world where the neediest of the sick, despite the
progress of medicine, lack medical drugs and appropriate treatment.
The Church must also devote special care to those areas of the world where those sick with AIDS receive no
help. The Good Samaritan Foundation was created especially for them; its aim is to contribute to helping the
peoples most exposed with the necessary therapeutic support.
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The work of evangelization, the formation of consciences and the charitable witness that your Dicastery
promotes in the world are a precious contribution, not only to comforting the suffering but also to guiding civil
societies towards the demanding goals of the civilization of love.
5. I therefore thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for all the work done in these years, and I urge you to
continue it with renewed enthusiasm. You know that I am constantly close to you and accompany you in your
Dicastery's tasks with my prayers and my full confidence in the dedication you devote to your important
activities. I encourage you in them, and to comfort you in your work I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to
you, with which I also intend to embrace all those to whom you reach out through your work.
DDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PARTICIPANTS AT THE 20th
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ORGANIZED BY THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH
PASTORAL CARE ON THE THEME OF THE HUMAN GENOME
Saturday, 19 November 2005
Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Distinguished Ladies and
Gentlemen,
I address my cordial greeting to you all, with a special thought of gratitude to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragn
for the kind greeting he has expressed on behalf of those present.
I offer a special greeting to the Bishops and priests who are taking part in this Conference as well as the
speakers, who have certainly made a highly qualified contribution to the problems addressed in these
days: their reflections and suggestions will be the subject of an attentive evaluation by the competent ecclesial
bodies.
Placing myself in the pastoral perspective proper to the Pontifical Council that has sponsored this Conference, I
would like to point out that today, especially in the area of breakthroughs in medical science, the Church is
being given a further possibility of carrying out the precious task of enlightening consciences, in order to
ensure that every new scientific discovery will serve the integral good of the person, with constant respect for
his or her dignity.
In underlining the importance of this pastoral task, I would like first of all to say a word of encouragement to
those in charge of promoting it. The contemporary world is marked by the process of secularization. Through
complex cultural and social events, it has not only claimed a just autonomy for science and the organization of
society, but has all too often also obliterated the link between temporal realities and their Creator, even to the
point of neglecting to safeguard the transcendent dignity of human beings and respect for human life itself.
Today, however, secularization in the form of radical secularism no longer satisfies the more aware and alert
minds. This means that possible and perhaps new spaces are opening up for a profitable dialogue with society
and not only with the faithful, especially on important themes such as those relating to life.
This is possible because, in peoples with a long Christian tradition, there are still seeds of humanism which the
disputes of nihilistic philosophy have not yet reached. Indeed, these seeds tend to germinate more vigorously,
the more serious the challenges become. Believers, moreover, know well that the Gospel is in an intrinsic
harmony with the values engraved in human nature. Thus, God's image is deeply impressed in the soul of the
human being, the voice of whose conscience it is far from easy to silence.
With the Parable of the Sower, Jesus in the Gospel reminds us that there is always good ground on which the
seed may fall, spring up and bear fruit. Even people who no longer claim to be members of the Church or even
those who have lost the light of faith, nonetheless remain attentive to the human values and positive
contributions that the Gospel can make to the good of the individual and of society.
It is particularly easy to become aware of this by reflecting on the topic of your Conference: the people of our
time, whose sensitivity, moreover, has been heightened by the terrible events that have clouded the 20th
century and the beginning of the 21st, easily understand that human dignity cannot be identified with the genes
of the human being's DNA and is not diminished by the possible presence of physical differences or genetic
defects.The principle of "non-discrimination" on the basis of physical or genetic factors has deeply penetrated
consciences and is formally spelled out in the charters of human rights. The truest foundation of this principle
lies in the dignity inherent in every human person because he or she is created in the image and likeness of God
(cf. Gn 1: 26).
What is more, a serene analysis of scientific data leads to a recognition of the presence of this dignity in every
phase of human life, starting from the very moment of conception. The Church proclaims and proposes this
truth not only with the authority of the Gospel, but also with the power that derives from reason. This is
precisely why she feels duty bound to appeal to every person of good will in the certainty that the acceptance of
these truths cannot but benefit individuals and society.
Indeed, it is necessary to preserve ourselves from the risks of a science and technology that claim total
autonomy from the moral norms inscribed in the nature of the human being. There are many professional
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bodies and academies in the Church that are qualified to evaluate innovations in the scientific environment,
particularly in the world of biomedicine; then there are doctrinal bodies specifically designated to define the
moral values to be safeguarded and to formulate norms required for their effective protection; lastly, there are
pastoral Dicasteries, such as the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, whose task is to ensure that the
Church's pastoral presence is effective. This third task is not only invaluable with regard to an ever more
adequate humanization of medicine, but also in order to guarantee a prompt response to the expectations by
each individual of effective spiritual assistance.
Consequently, it is necessary to give pastoral health care a new impetus. This implies renewal and the
deepening of the pastoral proposal itself. It should take into account the growing mass of knowledge spread by
the media and the higher standard of education of those they target.
We cannot ignore the fact that more and more frequently, not only legislators but citizens too are called to
express their thoughts on problems that can be described as scientific and difficult. If they lack an adequate
education, indeed, if their consciences are inadequately formed, false values or deviant information can easily
prevail in the guidance of public opinion. Updating the training of pastors and educators to enable them to take
on their own responsibilities in conformity with their faith, and at the same time in a respectful and loyal
dialogue with non-believers, is the indispensable task of any up-to-date pastoral health care. Today, especially
in the field of the applications of genetics, families can lack adequate information and have difficulty in
preserving the moral autonomy they need to stay faithful to their own life choices. In this sector, therefore, a
deeper and more enlightened formation of consciences is necessary. Today's scientific discoveries affect family
life, involving families in unexpected and sensitive decisions that require responsible treatment. Pastoral work
in the field of health care thus needs properly trained and competent advisers.This gives some idea of the
complex and demanding management needed in this area today. In the face of these growing needs in pastoral
care, as the Church continues to trust in the light of the Gospel and the power of Grace, she urges those
responsible to study a proper methodology in order to help individuals, families and society, combining
faithfulness and dialogue, theological study and the ability for mediation.
In this, she sets great store especially by the contribution of all, such as you who are gathered here to take part
in this International Conference and who have at heart the fundamental values that support human coexistence.
I gladly take this opportunity to express to you all my grateful appreciation for your contribution in a sector so
important for the future of humanity.
With these sentiments, I invoke from the Lord an abundance of enlightenment on your work, and as a
testimony of my esteem and affection, I impart a special Blessing to you all.
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH PASTORAL CARE
MESSAGE OF CARDINAL JAVIER LOZANO BARRAGN ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD
AIDS DAY
December 1, 2005
The World Day against AIDS of this year, organized by UNAIDS with the slogan "Stop AIDS: Keep the
promise", seeks to call everyone, and in particular those who occupy positions of responsibility in the field of
HIV/AIDS, to a renewed and conscious commitment to the lasting prevention of the spread of this pandemic
and to care for those afflicted by it, especially in poor countries, in order to stem and invert the trend towards
the growing spread of infection by HIV/AIDS.
The Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care joins with other national and international organizations, and in
particular UNAIDS, which every year organizes a world campaign of combating AIDS, so that this planetary
evil, which has brought about a global crisis, can be met with an action that is equally global and united.
The adherence in 2001 of Heads of State and representatives of Governments to the Declaration of commitment
to the struggle against HIV/AIDS was an important moment of affirming awareness and political commitment
at a world level in favour of a strong, global and decisive reaction and response by the international
community.
The epidemiological situation of HIV/AIDS continues to rouse great concern. It is estimated that in 2005 the
number of people living with AIDS was 40.3 million, of whom 2.3 million were minors under the age of 15.
Year by year the number of people infected by this disease continues to grow. In 2005, 4.9 million people
contracted the HIV virus, of whom 700,000 were minors under the age of 15, and in 2005 3.1 million people
died of AIDS, of whom 570,00 were young people under the age of 15. HIV/AIDS continues to sow death in
all the countries of the world. The best cure is prevention to avoid infection by HIV/AIDS, which we should
remember is transmitted through the triple route of blood, transmission from mother to child and sexual
contact. As regards transfusions and other forms of contact with the blood of an infected person, today such
infection has been notably reduced. Despite this fact, the very greatest attention should be paid to avoid this
pathway of infection, especially in centres that deal with transfusions and during surgical operations.
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We may thank the Lord that contagion from mother to child is strongly controlled by suitable drugs. Prevention
in this field must be intensified through the provision of suitable medication to sero-positive mothers,
especially by public bodies in the various countries of the world.
The third pathway of infection - sexual transmission - still remains the most important. This is greatly fostered
by a kind of pansexual culture that devalues sexuality, reducing it to mere pleasure without any further
meaning.
Radical prevention in this field must come from a correct conception and practice of sexuality, where sexual
activity is understood in its deep meaning as a total and absolute expression of the fecund giving of love. This
totality leads us to the exclusiveness of its exercise in marriage, which is unique and indissoluble. Secure
prevention in this field thus lies in the intensification of the solidity of the family.
This is the profound meaning of the Sixth Commandment of the law of God, which constitutes the fulcrum of
the authentic prevention of AIDS in the field of sexual activity.
Faced with the difficult social, cultural and economic situation in which many countries find themselves, there
can be no doubt that a defence and promotion of health is required that is a sign of the unconditional love of
everyone, in particular for the poorest and the weakest, and which meets the human needs of every individual
and the community. As a result, those laws that do not take into sufficient consideration the equal distribution
of conditions of health for everyone must be reformed.
Health is a good in itself and we can say that "there weighs upon it a social mortgage". Thus, health must be
assured to all the inhabitants of the earth, and studies must be engaged in so that resources are used to achieve
health for everyone by ensuring the basic care and treatment that are still denied to the majority of the
population of the world.
The right to the defence of health must, however, be matched by the duty to implement forms of behaviour and
to follow lifestyles that are directed to defending health and to reject those that compromise health.
The Catholic Church continues to make her contribution both as regards prevention and in caring for people
afflicted by HIV/AIDS and their families at the level of medical care and assistance and at the social, spiritual
and pastoral levels.
A total of 26.7 percent of centres for the provision of care in relation to HIV/AIDS in the world are Catholic
based. Local Churches, religious institutions and lay associations have promoted very many projects and
programmes dealing with training and education, prevention and assistance, care and the pastoral
accompanying of sick people, with love, a sense of responsibility and a spirit of charity.
At a practical level, on the basis of the information that comes from the various local Churches and Catholic
institutions in the world, the actions that are engaged in the field of AIDS may be categorized in the following
way: the promotion of campaigns of sensitization, programmes of prevention and health-care education,
support for orphans, the distribution of medicaments and food, home care, the creation of hospitals, centres and
therapeutic communities that concentrate their work around the provision of care and assistance for people
afflicted by HIV/AIDS, working with governments, care in prisons, courses of catechesis, the creation of
systems of help through Internet, and the establishment of support groups for sick people.
Flanking this inestimable and praiseworthy endeavour, on 12 September 2004 Pope John Paul II created the
"Good Samaritan" Foundation, which was entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care and
subsequently confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI, in order to bring economic help, thanks to the donations that
are received, to the sick people who are most in need in the world, and in particular to the victims of
HIV/AIDS. During this first year of activity of the Foundation significant financial help to purchase
pharmaceuticals has been sent to the local Churches in America, Asia, Africa and Europe.
Concrete guidelines for action I would like to offer certain suggestions at the level of guidelines for action to
those who are involved at various levels in the fight against HIV/AIDS:
To Christian communities: that they may continue to promote the stability of the family and the education of
children in a correct understanding of sexual activity as a gift of God for self-giving that is lovingly full and
fertile.
To governments: that they may promote the overall health of their populations and foster care for AIDS
patients, basing themselves on the principles of responsibility, solidarity, justice and fairness.
To the pharmaceutical industries: that they may facilitate economic access to anti-viral pharmaceuticals for the
treatment of HIV/AIDS and those pharmaceuticals that are needed to treat opportunistic infections.
To scientists and health-care workers: that they may renew their solidarity and do everything they can to
advance biomedical research into HIV/AIDS in order to find new and effective pharmaceuticals that are able to
stem the phenomenon.
To the mass media: that they may provide transparent, correct and truthful information to populations on this
phenomenon and on methods for its prevention, without forms of exploitation.
I would like to conclude with the words which Pope Benedict XVI addressed to the Bishops of South Africa
during their ad limina visit on 10 June 2005: "Brother Bishops, I share your deep concern over the devastation
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caused by AIDS and related diseases. I especially pray for the widows, the orphans, the young mothers and
those whose lives have been shattered by this cruel epidemic.
"I urge you to continue your efforts to fight this virus, which not only kills but seriously threatens the economic
and social stability of the Continent".
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE 21st
INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ORGANIZED BY THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH
PASTORAL CARE
Clementine Hall Friday, 24 November 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of the International Conference organized by the Pontifical Council
for Health Pastoral Care. I address my cordial greeting to each one of you, and in the first place to Cardinal
Javier Lozano Barragn, whom I thank for his courteous words. The choice of the theme: "Pastoral aspects of
the treatment of infectious diseases", affords you an opportunity for reflecting, from various points of view, on
the infective pathologies that have always accompanied humanity's journey. The number and variety of ways in
which, even in our time, they are often a mortal threat to human life is striking.
Terms such as "leprosy", "the plague", "tuberculosis", "AIDS" and "Ebola" evoke dramatic scenes of sorrow
and fear: sorrow for the victims and their loved ones, often crushed by a feeling of powerlessness in the face of
the inexorable gravity of the illness; fear for the population in general and for those who, because of their
profession or their own choice, are in contact with people suffering from these diseases.
Despite the beneficial effects of prevention that the progress in science, medical technology and social policies
has brought, the persistence of infectious diseases continues to take a heavy toll of victims and highlights the
inevitable limitations of the human condition. The task of humanity, however, must be to never cease seeking
the most effective means and ways to intervene in order to combat these illnesses and reduce patient suffering.
In the past, multitudes of men and women put their skills and their reserve of human generosity at the disposal
of sick people with repulsive pathologies. In the context of the Christian Community, "Many consecrated
persons have given their lives in service to victims of contagious diseases, confirming the truth that dedication
to the point of heroism belongs to the prophetic nature of the consecrated life" (Apostolic Exhortation Vita
Consecrata, n. 83). However, these highly praiseworthy initiatives and generous acts of love are still obstructed
by many forms of injustice. How can we forget the numerous people afflicted by infectious diseases who are
forced to live in segregation and sometimes humiliatingly stigmatized? These deplorable situations appear all
the more serious in the social and financial disparity between the world's North and the South.
It is important to respond to them with practical interventions that encourage closeness to the sick person by a
more lively evangelization of culture and by proposing inspiring motives for the financial and political
programmes of governments. In the first place, closeness to the sick person afflicted by an infectious disease:
this is a goal for which the Ecclesial Community should always strive. The example of Christ who, breaking
with the customs of his time, not only permitted lepers to approach him but also restored their health and
dignity as persons, has "infected" many of his disciples down through the two millennia of Christian history.
The kiss that Francis of Assisi gave the leper has not only been imitated by heroic figures such as Bl. Damian
de Veuster, who died on the Island of Molokai while treating lepers there, and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta as well as
the Italian women religious who were killed a few years ago by the Ebola virus, but also by many who
champion initiatives for the infectious sick, especially in developing countries.
This rich tradition of the Catholic Church should be kept alive so that, through the exercise of charity to those
who are suffering, the values inspired by authentic humanity and by the Gospel are made visible: the dignity of
the person, mercy and Christ's identification with the sick person.
No intervention will be adequate if it does not reveal love for the human being, a love nourished by the
encounter with Christ. The indispensable closeness to the sick person should go hand in hand with
theevangelization of the cultural context in which we live.
Prejudices that hinder or restrict effective help to the victims of infectious diseases include the attitude of
indifference and even of exclusion and rejection that surface from time to time in an affluent society.
This attitude is also encouraged by images of men and women mainly concerned with the physical beauty,
health and biological vitality that are conveyed in the media. This is a dangerous cultural trend that leads to
putting oneself at the centre, shutting oneself in one's own small world and turning one's back on the
commitment to serve those in need.
My venerable Predecessor John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, expressed the hope that
suffering would instead help to "unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one's "I' on behalf of
other people, especially those who suffer". And he added: "The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for,
so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish
love which stirs in his heart and actions" (n. 29). What is further needed is a pastoral service that can uplift the
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sick as they face suffering and help them transform their own condition into a moment of grace, for themselves
and for others, through lively participation in Christ's mystery.
Lastly, I would like to reaffirm the importance of collaboration with the various public bodies so that social
justice may be implemented in this sensitive area of the treatment and nursing of contagious patients.
I wish to mention, for example, the fair distribution of resources for research and treatment, as well as the
promotion of living standards which help to prevent the occurrence and limit the spread of contagious diseases.
In this, as in other areas, the "mediated" task of contributing "to the purification of reason and to the
reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in
the long run", is incumbent upon the Church, whereas "the direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on
the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful... called to take part in public life in a personal capacity" (Deus
Caritas Est, n. 29). Thank you, dear friends, for the commitment you devote to the service of a cause in which
the healing and saving work of Jesus, the divine Samaritan of souls and bodies, is put into practice.
As I wish your Conference a successful conclusion, I warmly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you and to
your loved ones.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PLENARY ASSEMBLY OF THE
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH PASTORAL CARE
Clementine Hall Thursday, 22 March 2007
Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Health
Pastoral Care. I address my cordial greeting to each one of you, who have come from various parts of the world
as an effective expression of the commitment of the particular Churches, the Institutes of Consecrated Life and
the Christian community's numerous institutions in the health-care sector. I thank Cardinal Javier Lozano
Barragn, President of the Dicastery, for the courteous words with which he has expressed your common
sentiments, describing to me the current goals you are working to achieve. I greet with gratitude the Secretary,
the Undersecretary, the Officials and Consultors present and the other collaborators.
Your aim is not to examine a specific theme at this meeting, but rather, to check on the implementation of the
programme you established previously and consequently, to determine your future objectives. Thus, meeting
you on an occasion such as this gives me the joy, so to speak, of making each one of you actually feel in your
ecclesial service the closeness of the Successor of Peter, and through him, of the entire Episcopal College.
Indeed, the pastoral care of health is a typically evangelical context, which immediately recalls the work of
Jesus, the Good Samaritan of humanity. When he passed through the villages of Palestine proclaiming the
Good News of the Kingdom of God, he always accompanied his preaching with signs that he worked for the
sick, healing all those who were prisoners of every kind of disease and infirmity. The health of the human
being, of the whole human being, was the sign chosen by Christ to manifest God's closeness, his merciful love,
which heals the mind, the soul and the body. Dear friends, may this always be the fundamental reference of
your every initiative: the following of Christ, whom the Gospels present to us as the divine "doctor".
It is this biblical perspective that enhances the natural ethical principle of the duty to care for the sick, on the
basis of which every human life must be defended in accordance with its own particular difficulties and with
our practical possibilities of providing help. Going to the aid of the human being is a duty: both in response to a
fundamental right of the person and because the care of individuals redounds to the benefit of the group.
Medical science makes progress to the extent that it is willing to constantly discuss diagnosis and methods of
treatment, in the knowledge that it will be possible to surpass the previous data acquired and the presumed
limits. Moreover, esteem for and confidence in health-care personnel are proportionate to the certainty that
these official guardians of life will never condemn a human life, however impaired it may be, and will always
encourage endeavours to treat it. Consequently, treatment should be extended to every human being, meaning
throughout his or her entire existence. The modern conception of health care is in fact human
advancement: from the treatment of the sick person to preventive treatment, with the search for the greatest
possible human development, encouraging an adequate family and social environment.
This ethical perspective, based on the dignity of the human person and on the fundamental rights and duties
connected with it, is confirmed and strengthened by the commandment of love, the heart of the Christian
message. Christian health-care workers therefore know well that there is a very close and indissoluble bond
between the quality of their professional service and the virtue of charity to which Christ calls them: it is
precisely in doing their work well that they give people a witness of God's love. Charity as a task of the
Church, which I made the object of reflection in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, is implemented in a
particularly meaningful way through the care of the sick. This is attested to by the history of the Church, with
countless testimonies of the men and women who either individually or in groups have worked in this field.
Thus, among the saints who practised charity in an exemplary way, I was able to mention in the Encyclical
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emblematic figures such as John of God, Camillus de Lellis and [Giuseppe] Cottolengo, who served the poor
and suffering Christ in the person of the sick.
Dear brothers and sisters, allow me, therefore, to present to you in spirit the reflections I proposed in the
Encyclical with the relative pastoral instructions on the charitable service of the Church as a "community of
love". And I can now add to the Encyclical the recently published Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, which
in a broad and structured way treats the Eucharist as the "Sacrament of charity". It is precisely from the
Eucharist that health pastoral care can continuously draw the strength to relieve human beings effectively and
to promote them as befits their proper dignity. In hospitals and clinics, the Chapel is the vibrant heart where
Jesus ceaselessly offers himself to the Heavenly Father for the life of humanity. The Eucharist, distributed to
the sick in a dignified and prayerful way, is the vital sap that comforts them and instils in their souls the inner
light with which to live the condition of sickness and suffering with faith and hope. I therefore also entrust this
recent Document to you: make it your own and apply it in the field of pastoral health care, drawing from it the
appropriate spiritual and pastoral guidelines.
I offer you my best wishes for the success of your work in these days and accompany it with a special
remembrance in prayer, as I invoke the motherly protection of Mary Most Holy,Salus infirmorum, and with my
Apostolic Blessing, which I cordially impart to you who are present here, to all those who work with you in
their respective departments and to all your loved ones.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE 22nd INTERNATIONAL
CONGRESS OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH PASTORAL CARE
Clementine Hall Saturday, 17 November 2007
Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of this International Conference organized by the Pontifical Council
for Health Pastoral Care. I address my cordial greeting to each of you, which goes in the first place to Cardinal
Javier Lozano Barragn, with sentiments of gratitude for the kind expressions he addressed to me in the name
of all. With him I greet the Secretary and the other members of the Pontifical Council, the distinguished
persons present and all those who are taking part in this meeting to reflect together on the theme of the pastoral
care of the aged sick. This is a central aspect of pastoral health care today, which, thanks to the increase in life
span, concerns an ever greater population who have multiple needs, but at the same time indubitable human and
spiritual resources.
If it is true that human life in every phase is worthy of the maximum respect, in some sense it is even more so
when it is marked by age and sickness. Old age constitutes the last step of our earthly pilgrimage, which has
distinct phases, each with its own lights and shadows. One may ask: does a human being who moves toward a
rather precarious condition due to age and sickness still have a reason to exist? Why continue to defend life
when the challenge of illness becomes dramatic, and why not instead accept euthanasia as a liberation? Is it
possible to live illness as a human experience to accept with patience and courage?
The person called to accompany the aged sick must confront these questions, especially when there seems to be
no possibility of healing. Today's efficiency mentality often tends to marginalize our suffering brothers and
sisters, as if they were only a "weight" and "a problem" for society. The person with a sense of human dignity
knows that they are to respect and sustain them while they face serious difficulties linked to their condition.
Indeed, recourse to the use of palliative care when necessary is correct, which, even though it cannot heal, can
relieve the pain caused by illness.
Alongside the indispensable clinical treatment, however, it is always necessary to show a concrete capacity to
love, because the sick need understanding, comfort and constant encouragement and accompaniment. The
elderly in particular must be helped to travel in a mindful and human way on the last stretch of earthly
existence in order to prepare serenely for death, which - we Christians know - is a passage toward the embrace
of the Heavenly Father, full of tenderness and mercy.
I would like to add that this necessary pastoral solicitude for the aged sick cannot fail to involve families, too.
Generally, it is best to do what is possible so that the families themselves accept them and assume the duty with
thankful affection, so that the aged sick can pass the final period of their life in their home and prepare for
death in a warm family environment. Even when it would become necessary to be admitted to a health-care
structure, it is important that the patient's bonds with his loved ones and with his own environment are not
broken. In the most difficult moments of sickness, sustained by pastoral care, the patient is to be encouraged to
find the strength to face his hard trial in prayer and with the comfort of the sacraments. He is to be surrounded
by brethren in the faith who are ready to listen and to share his sentiments. Truly, this is the true objective of
"pastoral" care for the aged, especially when they are sick, and more so if gravely sick.
On many occasions, my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II, who especially during his sickness offered an
exemplary testimony of faith and courage, exhorted scientists and doctors to undertake research to prevent and
treat illnesses linked to old age without ever ceding to the temptation to have recourse to practices that shorten
the life of the aged and sick, practices that would turn out to be, in fact, forms of euthanasia. May scientists,
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researchers, doctors, nurses, as well as politicians, administrative and pastoral workers never forget that the
temptation of euthanasia appears as "one of the more alarming symptoms of the "culture of death', which is
advancing above all in prosperous societies" (Evangelium Vitae, n. 64). Man's life is a gift of God that we are
all called to guard always. This duty also belongs to health-care workers, whose specific mission is to be
"ministers of life" in all its phases, particularly in those marked by fragility connected with infirmity. A general
commitment is needed so that human life is respected, not only in Catholic hospitals, but in every treatment
facility.
It is faith in Christ that enlightens Christians regarding sickness and the condition of the aged person, as in
every other event and phase of existence. Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave human suffering a transcendent value
and meaning. Faced with suffering and sickness, believers are invited to remain calm because nothing, not even
death, can separate us from the love of Christ. In him and with him it is possible to face and overcome every
physical and spiritual trial and to experience, exactly in the moment of greatest weakness, the fruits of
Redemption. The Risen Lord manifests himself to those who believe in him as the Living One who transforms
human existence, giving even sickness and death a salvific sense.
Dear brothers and sisters, while I invoke upon each one of you and your daily work the maternal protection of
Mary, Salus infirmorum, and of the Saints who have spent their lives at the service of the sick, I exhort you to
always work to spread the "Gospel of life". With these sentiments, I warmly impart the Apostolic Blessing,
willingly extending it to your loved ones, co-workers and particularly to the aged patients.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE 23rd INTERNATIONAL
CONGRESS ORGANIZED BY THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH PASTORAL CARE
Clementine Hall Saturday, 15 November 2008
Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Distinguished Professors, Dear
Brothers and Sisters,
I am glad to meet you on the occasion of the 23rd annual International Congress organized by the Pontifical
Council for Health Pastoral Care. I cordially greet Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragn, President of the Dicastery,
and thank him for his courteous words on your behalf. I extend my gratitude to the Secretary, to the
collaborators of this Pontifical Council, to the speakers, to the academic authorities, to the important figures, to
those in charge of health-care institutions, to health-care workers and to those who have offered their
collaboration by taking part in various ways in the organization of the Congress whose theme this year
is:"Pastoral care in the treatment of sick children". I am sure that these days of reflection and discussion on
such a topical subject will contribute to sensitizing public opinion on the duty to give children all the attention
they need for their harmonious physical and spiritual development. If this applies to all children, it is even more
important for those who are sick and in need of special medical treatment.
Thanks to the contribution of experts of world renown and people directly in touch with children in difficulty,
the theme of your Congress, which ends today, has enabled you to highlight the difficult situation in immense
regions of the earth in which a rather large number of children are still living and to propose necessary, indeed,
urgent interventions to come to their help. Medicine has certainly made considerable progress in the past 50
years: this has led to a substantial reduction of infant mortality, although much still remains to be done with this
in view. It suffices to remember, as you pointed out, that each year four million newborn babies die within 26
days of birth.
In this context, the treatment of the sick child is a topic that cannot fail to raise attentive interest of all those
who are dedicated to health pastoral care. A detailed analysis of the current state of affairs is indispensable in
order to undertake, or continue, a decisive action aimed at preventing illnesses as far as possible and, when they
are present, at curing the small patients by means of the most modern discoveries of medical science as well as
by promoting better standards of hygiene and sanitation, especially in the less fortunate countries. The
challenge today is to ward off the onset of many pathologies once characteristic of childhood and, overall, to
encourage the growth, development and maintenance of good health for all children.
All are involved in this vast action: families, doctors and social and health-care workers. Medical research is
sometimes confronted by difficult decisions when it is a question, for example, of reaching a proper balance
between the continuation or abandonment of therapy to ensure adequate treatment for the real needs of the
small patients without succumbing to the temptation of experimentation. It is not superfluous to remember that
the focus of every medical intervention must always be to achieve the true good of the child, considered in his
dignity as a human being with full rights. Thus it is always necessary to care for him lovingly, to help him to
face suffering and sickness, even before birth, as his situation requires. Then taking into account the emotional
impact of the illness and treatment to which the child is subjected which are quite often particularly invasive, it
is important to ensure constant communication with his relatives. If health-care workers, doctors and nurses
feel the burden of the suffering of the little patients they are assisting, one can easily imagine how much more
acutely their parents must feel it!
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The medical and human aspects must never be separated and it is the duty of every nursing and health-care
structure, especially if it is motivated by a genuine Christian spirit, to offer the best of both expertise and
humanity. The sick person, especially the child, understands in particular the language of tenderness and love,
expressed through caring, patient and generous service which in believers is inspired by the desire to express
the same special love that Jesus reserved for children. "Maxima debetur puero reverentia" (Juvenal, Satire
xiv, v. 479): the ancients already acknowledged the importance of respecting the child who is a gift and a
precious good for society and whose human dignity, which he fully possesses even unborn in his mother's
womb, must be recognized. Every human being has a value in himself because he is created in the image of
God in whose eyes he is all the more precious the weaker he appears to the human gaze. Thus, with what great
love should we also welcome a unborn child who is already affected with medical pathologies! "Sinite parvulos
venire ad me", Jesus says in the Gospel (cf. Mk 10: 14), showing us the attitude of respect and acceptance with
which we must look after every child, especially when he is weak and in difficulty, suffering and defenceless. I
am thinking above all of little orphans or children abandoned because of the poverty and the disintegration of
their family; I am thinking of children who are the innocent victims of AIDS or of war and of the many armed
conflicts that are being fought in various parts of the world; I am thinking of children who died because of
poverty, drought and hunger. The Church does not forget her smallest children and if, on the one hand she
applauds the initiatives of the richer nations to improve the conditions of their development, on the other, she is
strongly aware of the need to invite them to pay greater attention to these brothers and sisters of ours, so that
thanks to our unanimous solidarity they are able to lo0k at life with trust and hope.
Dear brothers and sisters, while I express the wish that the many conditions of imbalance that still exist may be
set right as soon as possible with decisive interventions on behalf of these small brothers and sisters, I also
express my deep appreciation of those who dedicate their energy and material resources to serving them. I am
thinking with special gratitude of ourBambino Ges Hospital and of the numerous Catholic social and healthcare associations and institutions which, following the example of Jesus Christ the Good Samaritan, and
inspired by his charity, offer human, moral and spiritual support and relief to so many suffering children, loved
by God with special predilection. May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of every human being, watch over sick
children and protect all those who do their utmost to nurse them with humane consideration and a Gospel spirit.
With these sentiments, as I express my sincere appreciation of the work of sensitization achieved at this
International Congress, I assure you of my constant remembrance in prayer and impart the Apostolic Blessing
to all.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI FOR THE EIGHTEENTH WORLD DAY OF THE
SICK
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The 18th World Day of the Sick will be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica next 11 February, the liturgical
Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. Its felicitous coincidence with the 25th anniversary of the Institution of
the Pontifical Council for Health-Care Workers is another reason to thank God for the ground covered so far in
the sector of the pastoral care of health. I sincerely hope that this event will be an opportunity to give a more
generous apostolic impetus to the service of the sick and of those who look after them.
With the annual World Day of the Sick, the Church intends to carry out a far-reaching operation, raising the
ecclesial community's awareness to the importance of pastoral service in the vast world of health care. This
service is an integral part of the Church's role since it is engraved in Christ's saving mission itself. He, the
divine Doctor, "went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil" (Acts 10: 38). In the
mystery of his Passion, death and Resurrection, human suffering takes on meaning and the fullness of light. In
his Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, the Servant of God John Paul II offers enlightening words in this regard.
"Human suffering, has reached its culmination in the Passion of Christ", he wrote. "And at the same time it has
entered into a completely new dimension and a new order: it has been linked to love... to that love which
creates good, also drawing it out from evil by means of suffering, just as the supreme good of the Redemption
of the world was drawn from the Cross of Christ, and from that Cross constantly takes its beginning. The Cross
of Christ has become a source from which flow rivers of living water" (n. 18).
At the Last Supper, before returning to the Father, the Lord Jesus knelt to wash the Apostles' feet, anticipating
the supreme act of love on the Cross. With this act he invited his disciples to enter into the same logic of love
that is given especially to the lowliest and to the needy (cf. Jn 13: 12-17). Following his example, every
Christian is called to relive, in different and ever new contexts, the Parable of the Good Samaritan who, passing
by a man whom robbers had left half-dead by the roadside, "saw him and had compassion, and went to him and
bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and
took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, "Take care
of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back'" (cf. Lk 10: 33-35).
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At the end of the parable, Jesus said: "Go and do likewise" (Lk 10: 37). With these words he is also addressing
us. Jesus exhorts us to bend over the physical and mental wounds of so many of our brothers and sisters whom
we meet on the highways of the world. He helps us to understand that with God's grace, accepted and lived out
in our daily life, the experience of sickness and suffering can become a school of hope. In truth, as I said in the
Encyclical Spe salvi, "It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our
capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered
with infinite love" (n. 37).
The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council had already recalled the Church's important task of caring for human
suffering. In the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium we read that "Christ was sent by the Father "to bring
good news to the poor... to heal the contrite of heart' (Lk 4: 18), "to seek and to save what was lost' (Lk 19:
10).... Similarly, the Church encompasses with her love all those who are afflicted by human misery and she
recognizes in those who are poor and who suffer, the image of her poor and suffering Founder. She does all in
her power to relieve their need and in them she strives to serve Christ" (n. 8). The ecclesial community's
humanitarian and spiritual action for the sick and the suffering has been expressed down the centuries in many
forms and health-care structures, also of an institutional character. I would like here to recall those directly
managed by the dioceses and those born from the generosity of various religious Institutes. It is a precious
"patrimony" that corresponds with the fact that "love... needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to
the community" (Encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 20). The creation of the Pontifical Council for Health-Care
Workers 25 years ago complies with the Church's solicitude for the world of health care. And I am anxious to
add that at this moment in history and culture we are feeling even more acutely the need for an attentive and
far-reaching ecclesial presence beside the sick, as well as a presence in society that can effectively pass on the
Gospel values that safeguard human life in all its phases, from its conception to its natural end.
I would like here to take up the Message to the Poor, the Sick, and the Suffering which the Council Fathers
addressed to the world at the end of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council: "All of you who feel heavily the
weight of the Cross" they said, "you who weep... you the unknown victims of suffering, take courage. You are
the preferred children of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of hope, happiness, and life. You are the brothers
of the suffering Christ, and with him, if you wish, you are saving the world" (The Documents of Vatican II,
Walter M. Abbott, sj). I warmly thank those who, every day, "serve the sick and the suffering", so that "the
apostolate of God's mercy may ever more effectively respond to people's expectations and needs" (cf. John Paul
II, Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, Art. 152).
In this Year for Priests, my thoughts turn in particular to you, dear priests, "ministers of the sick", signs and
instruments of Christ's compassion who must reach out to every person marked by suffering. I ask you, dear
presbyters, to spare no effort in giving them care and comfort. Time spent beside those who are put to the test
may bear fruits of grace for all the other dimensions of pastoral care. Lastly I address you, dear sick people and
I ask you to pray and to offer your suffering up for priests, so that they may continue to be faithful to their
vocation and that their ministry may be rich in spiritual fruits for the benefit of the whole Church.
With these sentiments, I implore, for the sick, as well as for all who nurse them, the maternal protection of
Mary Salus Infirmorum, and I wholeheartedly impart the Apostolic Blessing to all.
From the Vatican, 22 November 2009, Solemnity of Christ the King.
THE HEALTHCARE MINISTRYAND THE PRIESTHOOD OF JOHN PAUL II*
The Healthcare Ministry in the Pontificate of John Paul II is one of the characteristic elements in his
Magisterium as Pastor of the Church.
The creation of the "World Day of the Sick" (1), and the post-Synodal Apostolic ExhortationPastores Dabo
Vobis, show us that the Healthcare Ministry is a constant element in his priesthood.
It is evident to all that John Paul II, from the very first moment of his Pontificate, has presented himself as the
Supreme Pastor of the Church engaged in a distinct mission: adhering fully to Vatican II, he has begun, and is
carrying forward, "a wise Christological, Mariological, and anthropological matrix of motives... This "fitting"
anthropology, which has Christ at its centre, is truly a constant element of today's pontifical Magisterium: a
positive evaluation of man; a drawing of attention to his psychophysical dignity as a unique being-a being who
is original and individually unrepeatable, and placed by God at the summit of creation; a constant defence of
this dignity in the most varied of circumstances and in the most specific of contexts" (2, 3)
Another self-evident element also presents itself to us: the special devotion to the defence of man-who is seen
as, and believed to be, "the first and fundamental way of the Church" (4) -at the moment of his greatest poverty
and fragility: when he is deprived of the blessing of health. And who is the first and the one most involved in
the project of evangelization that the times require if not the priest himself?
In doing his duty as Supreme Pastor, he gives and leaves constant signs in different places and at different
times, (5) and he does this with the spontaneity of one who lives in a daily fraternal giving to those who are
responsible, together with him, for the spiritual life of men.
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A deeply-held credo induced him to write the first document on suffering - the Apostolic Letter Salvifici
Doloris (6) He did this because he believes that "suffering seems to belong to the transcendence of man: it is
one of those points where man in a certain sense is "destined" to rise above himself and is called upon to do so
in a mysterious way" (SD, 2). It is a historic moment which ensures "that man becomes the way of the Church
in a special way when suffering enters his life.... Suffering seems to be, and is, almost inseparable from the
terrestial existence of man" (ibid.)
The next year he founded the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers with the
Apostolic Letter Dolentium Hominum (7). In this epistle he entrusted the Pontifical Council with the task of:
"stimulating and promoting the work of training, study and action carried out by the different International
Catholic Associations in the field of health policy and care, without in any way neglecting the other groups,
associations and forces which operate in this area in different ways and at different levels, coordinating the
activity of the different ministries of the Roman Curia in matters relating to the world of health and its
problems, spreading, explaining and defending the teachings of the Church in questions relating to health
policy and care and encouraging their diffusion at a practical level in the world of health, forming and
maintaining contacts with the local Churches and in particular with the Bishops'Commissions dedicated to the
world of health policy and care; attentively following and studying the practical initiatives and orientations at
the level of programmer which arise in the sphere of health policy, whether national or international, with the
goal of assessing their relevance and implications for the apostolate of the Church" (DH, 6).
The Pope is convinced (8) that those who dedicate themselves to the world of health care - the Health Care
Workers - enter into the most intimate part of man, into his existence, into the "incarnation of man" - man as a
spiritual being - into that quid which makes him such, and which is united with material "flesh" to give him an
unrepeatable place in history (9). This is a special category which establishes, normally, contact with the
spiritual part of man (10).
The person who is near to man in the moment of supreme trial caused by suffering of the flesh can influence
and shape his spiritual life. The presence of well trained and prepared health care workers is very important at
the most authentic and real moment of man's encounter with himself. These health care workers "should be
guided by an integrally human vision of illness and should therefore know how to engage in an approach to the
sick person which is entirely human. For the Christian, the redemption of Christ and his salvific grace reach the
whole man in his human entirety, and thus, in inclusive fashion, also reach sickness, suffering, and death" (DH,
2).
If the Holy Father has a very high opinion of, and appreciation for, those members of the laity who are engaged
in care for, and defence of, life, (11) and believes that their presence at the side of those pastors of souls who
dedicate themselves to this apostolate is not only useful but of great importance (12), he offers priests (and
especially young people called to the priesthood) the model of "Mary the Handmaiden of the Lord", who was
inspired by the Holy Spirit with the readiness and willingness to serve, something expressed in the words we
pronounce at the Angelus: "Behold the handmaiden of the Lord" (Lk 1:38). (13)
This readiness and willingness of the spirit must be found in every priest, in all priests, and not only in those
who dedicate their pastoral ministries to tending the sick. This is because "this service to the Lord is
immediately developed into service to one's neighbour, as is shown by the journey she undertook to be nearer
her sister Elisabeth" (14).
From the first moment of conception of the Son of God until the end, when she was at the side of the divine
sufferer and present at the last breath on the cross, Mary is exhalted by John Paul II as the special model of this
inescapable pastoral service rendered to the suffering of man. This is not all. It is precisely at this moment that
the high-point of the love-suffering of the God-Man is reached: "Being proclaimed by Jesus mother of a priest (John) - and being, above all else, the mother of Jesus the High Priest, Mary becomes in a very special way the
mother of priests.... 'Take Mary with you': herein is to be found the duty and privilege of every priest." (15)
It is evident that in the daily path trodden by the priesthood of John Paul II the Virgin Mary places her
permanent formation on pastoral care of the suffering, as is shown by an ascent which is always on an upward
gradient.
He Comes from Afar
Where this special pastoral concern for man comes from is a question which naturally arises.
He suprised everybody when he went to the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome to visit the then Archbishop Andrew
Maria Deskur, who was later made a Cardinal, a few hours after his election to the Papacy. It was the afternoon
of the eighteenth of October 1978.
It was not known that the spirit of this pastor was totally consecrated to the service of man and particularly of
suffering man.
It was immediately realized that every act and gesture made towards a sick person, whether small or great,
came from a great faith "in the mystery of the Church as his body, Christ in a certain sense opened his own
redemptive suffering to every suffering of man. To the extent to which man becomes a participant in the
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sufferings of Christ - in any place in the world and at any time in history - he completes in his own way that
suffering through which Christ effected his redemption of the world" (SD, 24).
That day, because of this faith, His Holiness, in referring to what he had said to the Cardinal that morning,
declared that he wanted "to found my papacy above all on those that suffer and unite their prayers to suffering,
passion and pains.... Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, I would like to entrust myself to your
prayers...[because you are] very strong; very strong, in the same way as the Crucified Jesus Christ was
strong"(16).
In the course of recent years the idea that this choice came from afar has gained ground. Confirmation came
from the Pope himself last year during a visit to a hospital in his homeland: "From the outset of my pastoral
service I have linked myself to the medical world and to the whole world of service to health care. Amongst
those present here I see people I met at the beginning of my pastoral work." (17)
A vocation within vocation. And we believe that its roots are to be found in the early years of life because of
"the mourning that marked his childhood and his adolescence" (18) Karol Woityla, the Pope, when referring to
himself as a child, revealed that "I had not yet reached the age of my first communion when I lost my mother,
and she thus was unable to experience the joy of seeing that day, a day she had looked forward to as a great
joy" (ibid.). Frossard observes that "he only saw his mother when she was ill."
The experience of suffering felt so early on in his life at the centre of his existential sphere left a deep mark on
his soul. He still remembers today that "my brother Edmond died from a virulent epidemic of scarlet fever in
the hospital where he was embarking on his medical career. If it had happened today, antibiotics would have
saved him. I was twelve years old. The death of my mother left a deep mark on my memory, but perhaps that of
my brother left an even deeper mark because of the dramatic circumstances in which it took place and because I
was older. Thus it was that at a relatively early age I became an orphan and an only child" (ibid.).
We should not here speak of conditioning influences. But we can talk of clear orientations if we look at the
development his life was to take.
The level of spiritual life absorbed within his home at these dramatic moments - including the death of his
father which occurred when "I was not yet twenty"(19) - taught him that "a fully human and conscious serene
death does not cause fear but renders the life of those who are present at this death more serious and encourages
them to engage in deeper reflection."(20)
It is a common opinion that the development of the personality takes place during childhood and youth. St
Augustine wrote that reason and intelligence sleep, so to speak, in the child, but with the passing of years wake
up and developer (21).
We can with good reason suggest, therefore, that in the spirit of the adolescent and then young Karol the
determination to consecrate himself to being a pastor of this suffering grew and made strides during these
years. The sublime example of how his relatives were led to sublimate their pain by the spiritual assistance of
worthy pastors of the soul marked and oriented his choice in favour of a priesthood founded upon pastoral care
for the sick.
If a historical date is required, we can find it in the moment of his presence at the University of Cracow where,
as a recently ordained priest, he ministered to the young university students of the Faculty of Medicine (22).
This was an intense bond which was to last, as a direct witness bears out: "I speak of this bond with especial
emotion and feeling because in that University I grew as a student (in truth I was there for only a little while),
as a priest and teacher, as a bishop, and finally as Metropolitan of Cracow. At the beginning I developed this
bond, I then consolidated and defended it forcefully when there was an external attempt to break it." (23)
To this day one of the initiatives the then Archbishop of Cracow promoted, organized, and defended on behalf
of health care workers is still alive and in full activity. I am referring to the spiritual meetings held at the
Marian Sanctuary of Czestochowa which are intended for professional health workers-meetings in which our
Council has taken part on more than one occasion. At these meetings one could not but be impressed by the
crowded and devout participation of thousands of people, at a time when freedom was still not yet achieved in
that country. (24)
In his untiring service as Supreme Pastor of the Church, John Paul II has put down in writing - and every day
he continues this undertaking - a theology of suffering which is organic and systematic. (25) Based upon the
Cross of Christ, it is located deep in the Easter mystery (cfSD, 21).
Conscious that the evangelical parable of the Good Samaritan "has become one of the essential component
parts of moral culture and universally human civilization" (SD, 29). and certain that "Christ at the same time
taught man to do good with suffering and to do good to those who suffer. In this dual aspect he fully revealed
the meaning of suffering" (SD, 30). This is the word of God that the Pope, the "Good Shepherd", expresses in
his priesthood.
The person who searches for a model by which to apply the directions derived from these last two acts of John
Paul II, will find it alive and active in his priesthood as Supreme Pastor of the Church.

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MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II FOR THE 13TH WORLD DAY OF THE SICK
(SHRINE OF MARY, QUEEN OF THE APOSTLES,YAOUND, CAMEROON - 11 FEBRUARY 2005)
Christ, hope for Africa
1. After ten years, in 2005, Africa will once again be hosting the principal celebrations for World Day of the
Sick that will take place at the Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in Yaound, Cameroon.
The choice of this venue will offer an opportunity to express real solidarity to the peoples of that Continent,
tried by serious inadequacies in the health-care sector. A further step will thus be taken in implementing the
commitment which the Christians of Africa made at the third World Day of the Sick 10 years ago, that is, to be
"Good Samaritans" to their brothers and sisters in difficulties.
Actually, in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, complying with the observations of
many Synod Fathers, I wrote that "contemporary Africa can be compared to the man who went down from
Jerusalem to Jericho; he fell among robbers who stripped him, beat him and departed, leaving him half dead
(cf. Lk 10: 30-37)". And I added that "Africa is a Continent where countless human beings - men and women,
children and young people - are lying, as it were, on the edge of the road, sick, injured, disabled, marginalized
and abandoned. They are in dire need of Good Samaritans who will come to their aid" (n. 41).
2. World Day of the Sick aims to stimulate reflection on the subject of health, whose fullest meaning also
alludes to the harmony of human beings with themselves and with the surrounding world. It is exactly this
vision that Africa richly expresses in its cultural tradition, testified to by many art forms, both civil and
religious, that are bursting with joy, rhythm and musicality.
Unfortunately, however, today this harmony is deeply disturbed. Numerous diseases wreak havoc on the
Continent, including in particular the scourge of AIDS, "which is sowing suffering and death in many parts of
Africa" (ibid., n. 116: loc. cit. n. 69). The conflicts and wars that afflict many regions of Africa stand in the way
of interventions to prevent and treat these diseases. In the refugee camps people are languishing who are
deprived even of the indispensable foodstuffs for survival.
I urge those who can to continue to do their utmost to put an end to these tragedies (cf. ibid., n. 117). I then
remind people responsible for the sale of arms of what I said in that Document: "Those who foment wars in
Africa by the arms trade are accomplices in abominable crimes against humanity" (ibid., n. 118).
3. As for the drama of AIDS, I have had the opportunity in other circumstances to stress that it is also
symptomatic of a "pathology of the spirit". To fight it responsibly, it is necessary to increase its prevention by
teaching respect for the sacred value of life and the correct approach to sexuality.
Indeed, if there are many contagious infections passed on through the blood especially during pregnancy infections that must be combated with every possible means - those contracted through sexual intercourse are
by far the most numerous and can only be avoided by responsible conduct and the observance of the virtue of
chastity. The Bishops participating in the above-mentioned Synod for Africa in 1994, referring to the effect of
irresponsible sexual behaviour on the spread of the disease, made a recommendation that I would like to
propose anew here: "The companionship, joy, happiness and peace which Christian marriage and fidelity
provide, and the safeguard which chastity gives, must be continuously presented to the faithful, particularly the
young" (ibid., n. 116).
4. Everyone must feel involved in the battle against AIDS. In this area too, it is the task of government leaders
and civil authorities to make available to citizens clear and correct information, and to earmark sufficient
resources to provide education in health care for young people. I encourage international organizations to
promote initiatives in this field that are inspired by wisdom and solidarity, and always to strive to defend
human dignity and to protect the inviolable right to life.
Earnest applause goes to the pharmaceutical industries engaged in keeping low the costs of medicines helpful
in the treatment of AIDS. Of course, financial resources are necessary for scientific research in the health-care
sector and further resources are required to put the newly discovered drugs on the market, but in the face of
emergencies such as AIDS, the preservation of human life must come before any other criterion.
I ask pastoral workers "to bring to their brothers and sisters affected by AIDS all possible material, moral and
spiritual comfort. I urgently ask the world's scientists and political leaders, motivated by the love and respect
due to every human person, to use every means available in order to put an end to this scourge (ibid., n. 116).
I would like in particular to recall here with admiration the many health-care workers, chaplains and volunteers
who, like Good Samaritans, assist persons with AIDS and care for their relatives. In this regard, the service of
the thousands of Catholic health-care institutions that go to the help of people in Africa afflicted by every kind
of illness, and especially by AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, is invaluable.

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In recent years, I have noted that my appeals for persons with AIDS have not been in vain. I have seen with
pleasure that various countries and institutions, with a coordinated effort, have supported practical campaigns
for its prevention and for the care of the sick.
5. I am now addressing you in a special way, dear Brother Bishops of the Bishops' Conferences of other
Continents, to ask you generously to join forces with the Pastors of Africa, to deal effectively with this and
other emergencies. The Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care will continue, as in the past, to make its
own contribution to coordinating and promoting this cooperation, asking every Bishops' Conference for its
effective contribution.
The Church's attention to Africa's problems is not only motivated by philanthropic compassion for men and
women in need but is also fostered by attachment to Christ the Redeemer, whose face she recognizes in the
features of every suffering person. It is faith, therefore, that impels her to do her utmost in caring for the sick, as
she has always done in the course of history. Hope enables her, despite the obstacles of every kind that she
encounters, to persevere in this mission. Finally, charity suggests to her the right approach to the different
situations, enabling her to perceive the particular features of each person and to respond to them.
With this attitude of deep sharing, the Church reaches out to life's injured in order to offer them Christ's love
through the many forms of help that "creativity in charity" (Apostolic LetterNovo Millennio Ineunte, n. 50)
suggests to her. She repeats to each one: courage, God has not forgotten you. Christ suffers with you. And by
offering up your sufferings, you can collaborate with him in the redemption of the world.
6. The annual celebration of the World Day of the Sick offers everyone a possibility of understanding better the
importance of pastoral health care. In our time, marked by a culture imbued with secularism, some have at
times been tempted not to recognize the full value of this pastoral context.
They think that human destiny is played out in other fields. Instead, it is precisely in times of sickness that the
need to find adequate responses to the ultimate questions about human life is the most pressing: questions on
the meaning of pain, suffering and death itself, considered not only as an enigma that is hard to face, but a
mystery in which Christ incorporates our lives in himself, opening them to a new and definitive birth for the
life that will never end.
In Christ lies the hope of true, full health; the salvation that he brings is the true response to the ultimate
questions about man. There is no contradiction between earthly health and eternal salvation, since the Lord died
for the integral salvation of the human person and of all humanity (cf. I Pt 1: 2-5; Liturgy of Holy
Friday, Adoration of the Cross). Salvation consists of the final content of the New Covenant.
At the next World Day of the Sick, let us therefore proclaim the hope of total health for Africa and for all
humanity, as we strive to work with greater determination at the service of this important cause.
7. In the Gospel passage of the Beatitudes, the Lord proclaims: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be
comforted" (Mt 5: 4). The contradiction that seems to exist between suffering and joy is overcome through the
consoling action of the Holy Spirit. In conforming us to the mystery of the crucified and Risen Christ, the Holy
Spirit opens us from this moment to the joy that will culminate in our beatific encounter with the Redeemer. In
fact, the human being does not only aspire to physical or spiritual well-being, but to a "health" that is expressed
in total harmony with God, with self and with humanity. This goal can only be reached through the mystery of
the passion, death and Resurrection of Christ. Mary Most Holy offers us an eloquent anticipation of this
eschatological reality, especially through the mysteries of her Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into
Heaven. In her, conceived without any shadow of sin, is found full acceptance of the divine will and service to
human beings, and consequently, she is full of that deep harmony from which joy flows.
We therefore rightly turn to her, invoking her as "Cause of our joy". What the Virgin gives to us is a joy that
endures even in trials. However, as I think of Africa, endowed with immense human, cultural and religious
resources but afflicted also by unspeakable suffering, a heartfelt prayer rises to my lips:
O Mary, Immaculate Virgin,
Woman of suffering and hope,
be kind to every suffering person, obtain fullness of life for each one.
Turn your maternal gaze especially upon those in Africa whose need is extreme, struck down by AIDS or other
mortal illness. Look upon the mothers who are mourning their children; Look upon the grandparents who lack
the resources to support their orphaned grandchildren. Embrace them all, keep them close to your Mother's
heart. Queen of Africa and of the whole world, Virgin Most Holy, pray for us!
From the Vatican, 8 September 2004
INTERVENTION BY THE HOLY SEE AT THE 60th WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY (GENEVA, 14-23
MAY 2007) ADDRESS OF H.E. MSGR. SILVANO M. TOMASI* 16 May 2007
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Madam President,
1. The Holy See Delegation wishes to convey its congratulations upon your election as President of this august
assembly as well as its sincere gratitude to Dr. Fernando Antezana Aranbar, who provided such excellent
leadership for the World Health Organisation Executive Board as it fulfilled its burdensome responsibility to
discern succession to the post of Director General following the untimely death of Dr. J.W. Lee.
2. My delegation also expresses congratulations to Dr. Margaret Chan upon her appointment as Director
General of the World Health Organisation. We welcome her designation of the health of women and of the
people of Africa as major concerns during her tenure in office. The Catholic Church has traditionally been in
the first line in the promotion of the authentic health of women, by helping them to harmonize their physical,
psychological and social well-being with moral and spiritual values. In this line, the Catholic Church is also
convinced of the God-given, equal, and complementary dignity of women and men. The Catholic Church also
prioritises the most fruitful expression of complementarity between woman and man that is, the family which
is founded upon lifelong and mutually faithful marriage and which continues to serve as the mainstay of human
society. This vision of human dignity, strongly promoted by the Holy See, also is shared by citizens in many
WHO member states. In this same regard, it is the fervent hope of this delegation that discussion on and
implementation of Resolution EB 120.R6, "Integrating Gender Analysis and Actions into the work of WHO"
will never be utilised to "justify" doing harm to or destroying human life during one of its most vulnerable
stages - when still within the mothers womb. Furthermore, the Holy See wishes to invite the WHO member
states once again to understand the term "gender" as grounded in biological sexual identity, male or female.
Regarding Africa, the Popes have repeatedly expressed deep concern over its anguished history "where many
nations are still in the grip of famine, war, racial and tribal tensions, political instability and the violation of
human rights"1, and Pope Benedict XVI has exhorted the international community, "we must not forget Africa
"2
3. My delegation wishes to commend, for particular attention by this Assembly, the resolutions and
recommendations with regard to the pandemics of Tuberculosis, Malaria, and HIV, as well as those related to
the projected exacerbation of Avian and Pandemic Influenza. Much of the threat to health security caused by
such diseases could adequately be addressed were the global human family to commit itself to affordable and
action-oriented programmes of research, vaccination, treatment, and preventive education respectful of the
natural moral law. On 23-25 November 2006, the Vaticans Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care
convened more than 500 experts to reflect on "Pastoral aspects of the treatment of infectious diseases." In
addressing those gathered, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the need to implement social justice in
the sensitive area of treatment and nursing and therefore to ensure a fair distribution of resources for research
and treatment.3 In this same perspective, as the Chancellor of Germany prepared to assume the presidency of
both the G8 countries and the European Union, the Holy Father, in a letter to her, expressed the hope that there
would be " a substantial investment of resources for research and for the development of medicines to treat
AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other tropical diseases is needed There is also a need to make available
medical and pharmaceutical technology and health care expertise without imposing legal or economic
conditions."4
4. The Holy See shares the concern expressed by the Secretariat of WHO in its Report on "Better Medicines for
Children", for the tragic loss of life each year among some 10.5 million children under five years of age; many
of these children die of diseases that are treatable in adults but for which appropriate dosages and formulations
have not yet been developed for paediatric use.5 Attention to this serious concern seems all the more
compelling in light of the recently-released report on "Scaling up priority HIV/AIDS interventions in the health
sector", which noted, with much regret, that only 15% of HIV-positive children in need of anti-retroviral
treatment actually have access to these life-saving therapies. Such treatment coverage is approximately one-half
that achieved for HIV-positive adults.6 The international community can no longer turn a deaf ear to the lifethreatening needs of children, many of whom can be counted among our most needy citizens but who represent,
as well, the future of the human community. While steps are being taken to develop "Better Medicines for
Children" and to revise and regularly update the Model List of Essential Medicines in order to include those
appropriate for paediatric use, research that is ethically-based, transparent, and carefully-monitored, must be
conducted on the safety of such medicines before they are approved for treatment of diseases affecting children.
5. As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of the historic Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care, the
Holy See Delegation is pleased to note the strategic attention being encouraged at this World Health Assembly
on such crucial topics as Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases, Rational Use of Medicines,
and, in particular, Health Promotion in a Globalized World with a special focus on primary health care. In all
the deliberations during this Assembly and in the subsequent implementation of World Health Assembly
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Resolutions at national and local levels, my delegation urges a perspective on health security that is grounded
on an anthropology respectful of the human person in his or her integrity and looks far beyond the absence of
disease to the full harmony and sound balance of the physical, emotional, spiritual and social forces within the
human person.7
Thank you.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESSJOHN PAUL II FOR THE ELEVENTH WORLD DAY OF THE SICK
(WASHINGTON D.C., U.S.A., FEBRUARY 11, 2003)
1. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world . . . We know and
believe the love God has for us (1 Jn 4:14,16). These words of the apostle John are a good summary of what
the Church seeks to do through her pastoral work in the area of health care. Recognizing the presence of the
Lord in our suffering brothers and sisters, she strives to bring them the good news of the Gospel and to offer
them authentic signs of love.
This is the context of the Eleventh World Day of the Sick, which will take place on February 11, 2003 in
Washington, D.C., in the United States, at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate
Conception. The choice of place and day invites the faithful to turn their hearts and minds to the Mother of the
Lord. The Church, entrusting herself to our Lady, is inspired to bear renewed witness to charity, in order to be a
living icon of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan, in the numberless situations of physical and moral suffering in
the world today. Urgent questions about suffering and death, dramatically present in the heart of every person
despite the continual attempts by a secular mentality to remove them or ignore them, await satisfactory
answers. Especially in the presence of tragic human experiences, the Christian is called to bear witness to the
consoling truth of the Risen Lord, who takes upon himself the wounds and ills of humanity, including death
itself, and transforms them into occasions of grace and life. This proclamation and this witness are to be
delivered to everyone, in every corner of the world.
2. Through the celebration of this World Day of the Sick, may the Gospel of life and love resound loudly,
especially in the Americas, where more than half the worlds Catholics live. On the continents of North and
South America, as elsewhere in the world, a model of society appears to be emerging in which the powerful
predominate, setting aside and even eliminating the powerless: I am thinking here of unborn children, helpless
victims of abortion; the elderly and incurable ill, subjected at times to euthanasia; and the many other people
relegated to the margins of society by consumerism and materialism. Nor can I fail to mention the unnecessary
recourse to the death penalty . . . This model of society bears the stamp of the culture of death, and is therefore
in opposition to the Gospel message (Apostolic ExhortationEcclesia In America, 63). Faced with this
worrying fact, how can we fail to include the defence of the culture of life among our pastoral
priorities? Catholics working in the field of health care have the urgent task of doing all they can to defend life
when it is most seriously threatened and to act with a conscience correctly formed according to the teaching of
the Church. The numerous health care facilities through which the Catholic Church offers a genuine testimony
of faith, charity and hope are already contributing in an encouraging way to this noble goal. Hitherto these
facilities have been able to rely on a significant number of men and women religious who guarantee a high
standard of professional and pastoral service. I hope that a fresh flourishing of vocations will enable Religious
Institutes to continue their meritorious work and indeed to expand it with the support of many lay volunteers,
for the good of suffering humanity in the Americas.
3. This privileged apostolate involves all local Churches. It is therefore necessary that every Episcopal
Conference, through appropriate structures, should seek to promote, guide and coordinate the pastoral care of
the sick, so that the whole People of God become aware of and sensitive to the many different needs of the
suffering. In order to make this witness of love practical, those involved in the pastoral care of the sick must act
in full communion among themselves and with their Bishops. This is of particular importance in Catholic
hospitals, which in responding to modern needs are called upon to reflect ever more clearly in their policies the
values of the Gospel, as the Magisteriums social and moral guidelines insist. This requires united involvement
on the part of Catholic hospitals in every sector, including that of finance and administration.
Catholic hospitals should be centres of life and hope which promote together with chaplaincies ethics
committees, training programmes for lay health workers, personal and compassionate care of the sick, attention
to the needs of their families and a particular sensitivity to the poor and the marginalized. Professional work
should be done in a genuine witness to charity, bearing in mind that life is a gift from God, and man merely its
steward and guardian.
4. This truth should be continuously repeated in the context of scientific progress and advances in medical
techniques which seek to assist and improve the quality of human life. Indeed, it remains a fundamental precept
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that life is to protected and defended, from its conception to its natural end. As I stated in my Apostolic
Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, The service of humanity leads us to insist, in season and out of season, that
those using the latest advances of science, especially in the field of biotechnology, must never disregard
fundamental ethical requirements by invoking a questionable solidarity which eventually leads to
discriminating between one life and another and ignoring the dignity which belongs to every human being
(No. 51). The Church, which is open to genuine scientific and technological progress, values the effort and
sacrifice of those who with dedication and professionalism help to improve the quality of the service rendered
to the sick, respecting their inviolable dignity. Every therapeutic procedure, all experimentation and every
transplant must take into account this fundamental truth. Thus it is never licit to kill one human being in order
to save another. And while palliative treatment in the final stage of life can be encouraged, avoiding a
treatment at all costs mentality, it will never be permissible to resort to actions or omissions which by their
nature or in the intention of the person acting are designed to bring about death.
5. My earnest hope for this Eleventh World Day of the Sick is that it will inspire in Dioceses and parishes a
renewed commitment to the pastoral care of the sick. Proper attention must be given to the sick who remain at
home, given that less and less time is actually being spent in hospital and the sick are often being entrusted to
their own families. In countries without adequate health care facilities, even the terminally ill are left at
home. Parish priests and all pastoral workers must be vigilant and ensure that the sick never lack the consoling
presence of the Lord through the word of God and the Sacraments.
Proper attention should be given to the pastoral aspect of health care in the formation of priests and
religious. For it is in care for the sick more than in any other way that love is made concrete and a witness of
hope in the Resurrection is offered.
6. Dear chaplains, religious, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, administrative personnel, social
assistants and volunteers: the World Day of the Sick offers a special opportunity to strive to be ever more
generous disciples of Christ the Good Samaritan. Be aware of your identity and learn to recognize in those who
suffer the Face of the sorrowful and glorious Lord. Be ready to bring help and hope especially to those afflicted
with new diseases, such as AIDS, and with older diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria and leprosy. Dear
Brothers and Sisters who suffer in body or spirit, to you I express my heartfelt hope that you will learn to
recognize and welcome the Lord who calls you to be witnesses to the Gospel of suffering, by looking with trust
and love upon the Face of Christ Crucified (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 16) and by uniting your sufferings to
his. I entrust you all to the Immaculate Virgin, our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and Health of
the Sick. May she hear the prayers that rise from the world of suffering, may she dry the tears of those in pain,
may she stand beside those who are alone in their illness, and by her motherly intercession may she help
believers who work in the field of health care to be credible witnesses to Christs love.
To each of you I affectionately impart my Blessing!
From the Vatican, 2 February 2003
INTERVENTION BY THE HOLY SEE AT THE 14th ORDINARY SESSION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL ON THE ISSUE OF ACCESS TO MEDICINES
ADDRESS BY H.E. MSGR. SILVANO M. TOMASI
Geneva Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Mr. President,
With regard to the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental
health, my delegation wishes to raise additional concerns regarding the need for effective action in order to
guarantee Universal Access to medicines and diagnostic tools for all persons. The Special Rapporteur focused
on this issue during his Report to the Eleventh Session of this distinguished Council[1]. However, continued
vigilance must be maintained in this regard.
As the members of this Council already are well aware, the right to health is universally recognized as a
fundamental right. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) includes the right to
health and medical care within the more general rubric of the right to enjoy an adequate standard of
living.[2] Article 12.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),
however, directly recognizes the right to enjoy the best physical and mental condition.[3].
The Committee on Economic and Cultural Rights, in its General Comment No. 14[4], moreover, identified the
following minimum requirements for States to ensure: (1) the right of access to health care in a nondiscriminatory way, (2) access to basic nutritional level, (3) access to housing, basic sanitation and a sufficient
supply of drinking water, (4) the supply of essential drugs, (5) an equitable distribution of benefits and health
services, and (6) adoption of national strategies to prevent and combat epidemics.
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Mr. President, the Catholic Church provides a major contribution to health care in all parts of the world
through local churches, religious institutions and private initiatives, which act on their own responsibility and
in the respect of the law of each country including the promotion of 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 dispensaries and
clinics, 521 leprosaria, and 15,448 homes for the aged, the chronically ill, or disabled people. With information
coming from these on-the-ground realities in some of the most poor, isolated, and marginalized communities,
my delegation is obliged to report that the rights detailed in the international instruments already mentioned are
far from being realized.
One major impediment to the realization of these rights is the lack of access to affordable medicines and
diagnostic tools that can be administered and utilized in low-income, low-technology settings. Among the
disturbing trends and findings reported by the Special Rapporteur are the following: Diseases of poverty still
account for 50 per cent of the burden of disease in developing countries, nearly ten times higher than in
developed countries[5]; more than 100 million people fall into poverty annually because they have to pay for
health care[6]; in developing countries, patients themselves pay for 50 to 90 per cent of essential medicines[7];
nearly 2 billion people lack access to essential medicines [8].
One group particularly deprived of access to medicines is that of children. Many essential medicines have not
been developed in appropriate formulations or dosages specific to pediatric use. Thus families and health care
workers often are forced to engage in a guessing game on how best to divide adult-size pills for use with
children. This situation can result in the tragic loss of life or continued chronic illness among such needy
children. For example, of the 2.1 million children estimated to be living with HIV infection[9], only 38% were
received life-saving anti-retroviral medications at the end of 2008[10]. This treatment gap is partially due to the
lack of child friendly medications to treat the HIV infection.
Thus the Committee on the Rights of the Child has declared: The obligations of States parties under the
Convention extend to ensuring that children have sustained and equal access to comprehensive treatment and
care, including necessary HIV-related drugs on a basis of non-discrimination.[11].
My delegation is well aware of the complexities inherent in the intellectual property aspects related to the issue
of access to medicines. These considerations, including the flexibilities available to applying the Agreement on
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, are well documented in the 2009 Report of the Special
Rapporteur. We further recognize that serious efforts already have been undertaken to implement the Global
Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, established in 2008 by the
61stWorld Health Assembly. However, the intense debates recently pursued at the 63 rd World Health Assembly
demonstrate that the international community has not yet succeeded in its aim to provide equitable access to
medicines and indicate the need for further creative reflection and action in this regard.
Mr. President, my delegation urges this Council to renew its commitment as a key stakeholder in efforts to
assert and safeguard the right to health by guaranteeing equitable access to essential medicines. We do so with
a firm conviction that treatment should be extended to every human being and as an essential element of
the search for the greatest possible human development and with a strong belief that [t]his ethical
perspective [is] based on the dignity of the human person and on the fundamental rights and duties connect
with it [12]
Propositio 51
HIV / AIDS
AIDS is a pandemic, together with malaria and tuberculosis, which is decimating African populations and
severely damaging their economic and social life. It is not to be looked at as either a medical-pharmaceutical
problem or solely as an issue of a change in human behaviour. It is truly an issue of integral development and
justice, which requires a holistic approach and response by the Church.
Those who are sick with AIDS in Africa are victims of injustice, because they often do not receive the same
quality of treatment as in other places. The Church asks that funds destined for those with AIDS be actually
used for this purpose, and recommends that African patients receive the same quality of treatment as in Europe.
The Church vehemently condemns all deliberate attempts on the part of individuals or groups to spread the
virus, either as a weapon of war or by their personal lifestyle.
The Synod offers encouragement to all Church institutions and movements who work in the field of health and
especially of AIDS and asks international agencies to acknowledge them and support them in respecting their
specificity. The Church urgently recommends that current research into treatments be expanded so as to
eradicate this severe affliction.
Moreover, this Synod proposes:
- the avoidance of whatever helps the spread of the disease, such as poverty, the breakdown of family life,
marital unfaithfulness, promiscuity and a life-style which is devoid of human values and Gospel virtues.
- a pastoral care which offers those living with HIV and AIDS access to medication, food, counselling for a
change in behaviour and a life without stigma;
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- a pastoral care which offers orphaned children, widows and widowers a genuine hope of a life without stigma
and discrimination;
- a pastoral support which helps couples living with an infected spouse to inform and form their consciences, so
that they might choose what is right, with full responsibility for the greater good of each other, their union and
their family; and
- that SECAM develop an HIV / AIDS pastoral manual for all those involved in the Churchs AIDS ministry
(priests, religious, doctors, nurses, counsellors, catechists, teachers) applying the Churchs moral and social
doctrine in the different situations, where the People of God in Africa are facing the various challenges of the
pandemic.

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