This morning in the Paul VI Hall Pope Francis received in audience six thousand doctors, members of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors, on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of its foundation. In his address, he commented that “the conquests of science and medicine can contribute to the improvement of human life, provided that they do not drift away from the ethical root of such disciplines”.
“Attention to human life, especially when it is most in difficulty, in the case of the sick, the elderly, and children, profoundly involves the mission of the Church. She is also called upon to participate in the debate on human life, presenting her outlook based on the Gospel. In many contexts, quality of life is linked predominantly to economic conditions, 'well-being', beauty and the pleasure of life in a physical sense, forgetting other deeper dimensions – relational, spiritual and religious – of existence. In reality, in the light of faith and good reason, human life is always sacred and always 'of quality'. There does not exist a human life that is more sacred than another, just as there is no human life qualitatively more significant than another, simply on the basis of greater means, rights, and economic and social opportunities”, emphasised the Holy Father.
Therefore, he continued, the work of Catholic doctors must offer witness “by word and by deed that human life is always sacred, valid and inviolable, and as such must be loved, defended and cared for”. The profession of medicine, “enriched with the spirit of faith, is a further reason to collaborate with those – even of different religious beliefs or thought – who recognise the dignity of human beings as a criterion for their activity. Indeed, while the Hippocratic oath commits you to serving life, the Gospel leads you further – to love it always and anyway, especially when in need of particular care and attention”.
“Prevalent thought offers a 'false compassion': that which sees abortion as being in favour of women, procuring euthanasia as an act of dignity, and the 'production' of a child – considered as a right instead of being welcomed as a gift – as a scientific conquest, as well as using human lives as 'guinea pigs', presumably to save others. Instead, compassion based on the Gospel is that which accompanies in times of need, that of the Good Samaritan, who 'sees', who 'has compassion', who approaches and offers concrete help”. The Pontiff concluded, “Your mission as doctors puts you in daily contact with many forms of suffering: I encourage you to take these on as 'good Samaritans', taking special care of the elderly, the sick and the disabled. Faithfulness to the Gospel of life and the response to it as a gift from God will at times require courageous, counter-current decisions that, in particular circumstances, may lead to conscientious objection, and to the many social consequences that such fidelity leads to. We are living in a time of experimentation with life. But it is a bad form of experimentation. … Playing with life … is a sin against the Creator: against God the Creator, Who created all things as they are”.