Washington D.C., Nov 17, 2017 / 11:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Second Vatican Council, rightly understood, continues to be a force for evangelization and renewal in the Church, according to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Holy Se… […]
Rome, Italy, Nov 17, 2017 / 10:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Though the Syrian civil war has de-escalated in recent months, the Holy See’s nuncio to the country says its problems are far from over, particularly regarding healthcare, with more people dying from a lack of proper medical care than from bombs.
“The risk in Syria is collapse,” Cardinal Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Syria, told CNA Nov. 17, because “more than half of the hospitals and first aid centers are ‘out of business’ because of the war.”
Out of all healthcare personnel in Syria, two thirds have left since the start of the country’s civil war in March 2011.
Zenari said the number of people who have died in bombings and shelling sits somewhere between 400 and 500,000. However, “those who die due to a lack of hospitals, a lack of medicines and a lack of healthcare are more numerous.”
“This lack of healthcare creates more victims than bombs.”
Zenari, who spends the majority of his time in Damascus, is in Rome for the Nov. 16-18 conference “Addressing Global Health Inequalities,” organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in collaboration with the International Confederation of Catholic Healthcare Institutions.
The goal of the conference is to launch a network connecting all 116,000 Catholic health organizations around the world through a platform of collaboration and sharing aimed at exchanging information.
Another key goal of the conference is to raise awareness about global disparities in access to healthcare.
Cardinal Parolin opened the conference outlining the Church’s vision for the network they are trying to foster. Other big name speakers include Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the dicastery; Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association; and Beatrice Lorenzin, Italy’s Health Minister.
Zenari gave attendees an update on the humanitarian situation in Syria, sharing stories of his experience on the ground.
In his comments to CNA, the cardinal said that of all that he has seen and heard in his various visits to health centers and hospitals throughout Syria, what stands out is the young victims of the conflict.
“I remember the children,” he said, and recalled how during the liturgy for Holy Saturday in 2014 he met a 9-year-old girl named Lorina, who was crying because both of her legs had been amputated the day before after being hit by fragments of a mortar shell that exploded near her school.
He also recalled the numerous “skeleton children” who live on the outskirts of cities or who have died of hunger after being abandoned, many of whom were never registered.
Thousands of other children have faced a similar fate, and while victims of the war come in all shapes and sizes, Zenari said that for him “the children leave a big impression.”
Hospitals and schools have consistently been a target for fighters on the various sides of the war in Syria, which is well into its sixth year, and as a result many hospitals in the country have been forced to go underground, with locals placing sandbags above the structure to cushion the effect of shelling.
According to UNICEF, 2016 was the deadliest year for children in Syria, which claimed lives of 652 children, 255 of which took place in or near a school. The number is a 20 percent jump from the number of child deaths in Syria in 2015.
More than 11,500 child deaths were reported in just the first two years of the conflict, and the number has continued to climb. However, the data provided by UNICEF only includes deaths that have been formally verified; the real figures could be much higher.
With only one third of the country’s doctors still around and half of the hospitals not functioning, “the situation is very, very dramatic from a humanitarian aspect,” Zenari said.
“You think that there are more than 5 million refugees in neighboring countries, and there are more than 6 million internally displaced people,” he said. “So the numbers are impressive. The humanitarian situation is very, very serious.”
In addition to taking a massive toll on the country’s healthcare services, the war has left many unemployed, meaning that of those who are actually able to reach hospitals or medical centers, many can’t afford treatment.
Before the war, Syria had one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the Middle East, and was one of the leading producers of pharmaceuticals.
But now “many of these industrial pharmaceutical factories are also ‘out of business’ because of the war,” Zenari said, noting that since these companies produced more than 90 percent of Syria’s pharmaceutical product, “it creates a national need (for) healthcare work.”
Poverty in Syria has risen to 85 percent as a result of the conflict, and many don’t have access to the national healthcare system, leaving some 11 million people without the care they need, Zenari said.
With this bleak scenario as a backdrop, the nunciature in Syria last year launched a project called “Open Hospitals,” which aims to support the hospitals and medical centers that are left, and offers funding that goes toward free treatment for families and individuals in greater need.
Religion isn’t taken into consideration, Zenari said, explaining that if Peter walks in with a headache, has a large family and is unemployed, he will be treated for free, and the same thing goes for Muhammad.
Open Hospitals is backed by Pope Francis and is being carried forward with the help of the Vatican’s development office. It works directly with the three Catholic hospitals in Syria to provide medicine, keep facilities up to date, and offer free care to those can’t afford to pay.
Present in Syria for over 100 years, these hospitals have been “taken by the neck, so to speak, by the financial problem,” Zenari said.
With money needed to pay for staff, general management, monthly bills, and the renewal of old facilities, patients continue to file in with average healthcare needs and war injuries, making the financial strain near crippling.
“When more than half of the state hospitals are out of business and we don’t have Catholic hospitals that are highly regarded, who don’t work at full efficiency,” the rate at which the remaining structures function is not sustainable, he said, so they decided to launch the project to ease the burden.
So far around one million euros (nearly $1.2 million) have already been raised. Zenari said he hopes there continues to be a “positive response,” and would like the project to extend beyond three years.
The project is being done “with a lot of transparency and a lot of competency,” he said, adding that the nunciature is also collaborating with a well-known local NGO which helps them with technical training.
With some 13 million people still in need of humanitarian assistance, according to U.N. estimates, the funds raised will support a variety of causes. The first and most urgent need is healthcare, Zenari said, but noted that there is also need for food, work, and education, since one in three schools in Syria have closed.
As far as a possible resolution to the situation, the cardinal said, “we still don’t see the end of the tunnel. It’s still far away.”
“The situation is very complicated, the political situation is complicated,” he said. While there has been a decrease in violence, “this de-escalation doesn’t work everywhere,” so the political situation “is far from being (resolved).”
Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 06:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Venerable Solanus Casey, a Capuchin priest from Wisconsin, was humble before all else, said the postulator of his cause for sainthood.
The life of Venerable Solanus Casey is the story of his &ldq… […]
Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 05:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday Pope Francis sent a video greeting to the people of Myanmar ahead of his Nov. 27-30 trip, saying he is coming to proclaim the Gospel and promote peace in a country gripped by a heated humanitarian and political crisis surrounding the Rohingya Muslim minority.
In the video, published Nov. 17, the said he wants to “confirm the Catholic community of Myanmar in its faith in God and in its testimony of the Gospel, which teaches the dignity of every man and woman, and demands (us) to open our hearts to others, especially to the poor and the needy.”
Above all, Francis said he is coming “to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (and) a message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.”
The visit to Myanmar is the first part of two stops in a Nov. 27-Dec. 2 trip that will also take Pope Francis to Bangladesh.
It also takes place amid an uptick in state-supported violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim community – an ethnic and religious minority – which in recent months has reached staggering levels, causing the United Nations to declare the situation “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
With an increase in violent persecution in their home country, many of the Rohingya population has fled to neighboring Bangladesh, with millions camping along the border as refugees.
In his video message the Pope thanked everyone working in preparation of his visit and asked for their prayers, that it would be “a source of hope and encouragement for everyone.” He said he also hopes to visit the country in a “spirit of respect and encouragement,” so the nation may endeavor to “build harmony and cooperation in serving the common good.”
Many people at this time, both believers and people of goodwill, feel an increasing need to grow in mutual understanding and respect as “members of the only human family,” he said, “because we are all children of God.”
The Pope’s pastoral visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh was officially announced by the Vatican in August and a first-draft of his schedule was released Oct. 10. He will be in Myanmar, also called Burma, Nov. 27-30 and in Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec. 2.
Pope Francis will leave the Vatican in the evening on Nov. 26, landing the following day in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, where he will stay during the first portion of his trip. After the official welcoming, he will have time to rest before the full-schedule begins the next day.
On Tuesday, Nov. 28, he will fly to Nay Pyi Taw, where there will be another official welcoming and arrival ceremony and an official visit with President Htin Kyaw.
He will then meet with the state advisor and minister of foreign affairs, before an encounter with other government authorities, leaders of civil society and the diplomatic corps, where he will give his first official speech of the visit.
The following morning Francis will celebrate Mass at the Kyaikkasan Grounds park. In the afternoon he will give speeches at separate meeting with the Supreme Council of “Sangha,” a term referring to Buddhist clergy in the country, and in a meeting with the bishops of Myanmar.
He will conclude his visit to Myanmar with a Mass for young people at the Cathedral of St. Mary’s in the morning of Nov. 30 before departing for Dhaka in Bangladesh.
Catholics in Myanmar are a small minority, only making up approximately 1.3 percent of a population of nearly 52 million. However, there are even fewer priests, both diocesan and religious, who number only one per every 742 Catholics.
Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Last week Albino Luciani, better known by his papal name, John Paul I, took the next step on the path to sainthood. Yet apart from the fame garnered by various theories that sprouted due to the enigmatic nature of his death, for many little is known of his saintly life and brief pontificate.
Born Oct. 17, 1912, in Italy’s northern Veneto region, Albino Luciani, known also as “the smiling Pope,” was elected Bishop of Rome Aug. 26, 1978. He made history when he became the first Pope to take a double name, after his two immediate predecessors, St. John XXIII and Bl. Paul VI.
He sent shock waves around the world when he died unexpectedly just 33 days later, making his one of the shortest pontificates in the history of the Church.
In addition to the novelty of his name and the surprise of his death, Luciani was also the first Pope born in the 20th century, and is also the most recent Italian-born Bishop of Rome.
Yet behind all the novelty of the month before his death and mystery of those that ensued, John Paul I has been hailed as a man of heroic humility and extraordinary simplicity, with a firm commitment to carrying forward the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and a knack for explaining complicated Church concepts in a way everyone can understand.
Life and background
Coming from a northern region in Italy that borders Austria, Luciani grew up with people from all cultures and backgrounds passing through. The area saw high levels of immigration and strong activity on the part of Catholic movements.
The priests around whom Luciani grew up had a keen social awareness and involvement with the faithful.
While all the basic needs of his family were met, Luciani grew up in relative poverty, with his father gone most of the time for work. However, according to Stefania Falasca, vice-postulator of his cause for canonization, this background gave the future Pope “a huge cultural suitcase” that he was able to bring with him in his various endevours.
Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Belluno e Feltre July 7, 1935, at the age of 22, Luciani was rector of the diocese’s seminary for 10 years. He taught various courses throughout his tenure, including dogmatic and moral theology, canon law, and sacred art.
In 1941 he received a dispensation from Ven. Pius XII to continue teaching while pursuing his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
He was named Bishop of Vittorio Veneto by St. John XXIII in 1958.
In 1969 he was named Patriarch of Venice by Bl. Paul VI. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1973, and was elected Bishop of Rome five years later.
Literature also played a key role in Luciani’s formation. According to Falasca, he had a library full of books in different languages and a special fondness for Anglo-American literature.
Though he knew English, French, German and Russian, his favorite authors were from the Anglo world, and included authors such as G.K. Chesterton, Willa Cather, and Mark Twain.
As cardinal, he wrote his own book called “Illustrissimi,” which is a series of letters penned to a variety of historical and fictional persons, including Jesus, King David, Figaro the Barber, Austrian Empress Maria Theresa Habsburg, Pinocchio, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Christopher Marlowe.
Luciani, Falasca said, was considered by Paul VI to be “one of the most advanced theologians” of the time, and was held in high esteem because he not just knew theology, but also knew how to explain it.
The clarity he had was “highly considered right away among the Italian bishops,” she said. “He was considered the brightest pen because of this ‘cultural suitcase,’ which knew how to synthesize in a very delicate writing, but clear and full of references.”
Luciani, she said, had “an ease of language” in his writing, which was coupled with “a solid theological preparation,” making him both credible and accessible.
Pontificate – ‘an Apostle of the Council’
John Paul I above all else was “a son of the Council,” Falasca said. Luciani “translated and communicated the directives in a natural and simple way … So he was an apostle of the Council in this sense.”
“He explained it, he put it into practice, he put the directives into action in a crystalline way.” It was this desire to carry the Council forward that formed the basis for his priorities during his 33 days in office.
Among these priorities was a “renewed sense of mission” for the Church, Falasca said, explaining that for Luciani, to accomplish this mission it was important “to go back to the sources of the Gospel.”
“This, you can say, was the meaning of the Council for Luciani.” And for him, going to the sources also meant “communicating the Gospel in simplicity and conforming his ministry” to it.
In addition to mission, John Paul I also placed a special emphasis on spiritual poverty in the Church and the search for peace and ecumenism.
Ecumenism and dialogue in particular are topics Luciani felt were “a duty that is part of being a Christian.”
Collegiality also was another key topic for Luciani, and it was the subject of his only written intervention during the Council, which he contributed in 1963.
Luciani also placed a strong emphasis on mercy, Falasca said, explaining that in many ways he was “was the Pope of mercy ‘par excellence,’” and was known for his warm and friendly demeanor.
These priorities can be clearly seen in the four general audiences John Paul I gave during his pontificate, with the subjects being poverty, faith, hope, and charity.
And the way he spoke about these and other topics, with “the simplicity of his approach (and) of his language,” left “an indelible memory in the People of God,” Falasca said.
John Paul I, she said, moved people with his naturalness and his ordinary way of speaking to the faithful.
Luciani had put this quality into writing long before his pontificate when in 1949, he published his first book, titled “Catechesis in Crumbs,” which focused on how to teach the essential truths of the faith in a simple and direct way, understandable to everyone.
When John Paul I died 33 days after his election, his sudden and unexpected death led to various conspiracy theories that Luciani had been murdered.
However, in a book titled “John Paul I: The Chronicle of a Death” and published Nov. 7 to coincide with the announcement that Luciani’s sainthood cause was moving forward, Falasca dispels the theories by outlining the evidence gathered on John Paul I’s death while researching for his cause.
In the book, she recounts how the evening before his death Luciani suffered a severe pain in his chest for about five minutes, a symptom of a heart problem, which occurred while he was praying Vespers with his Irish secretary, Msgr. John Magee, before dinner.
The Pope rejected the suggestion to call for a doctor when the pain subsided, and his doctor, Renato Buzzonetti, was only informed of the episode after his death.
Luciani’s prime virtue was humility, which is “the base without which you can’t go toward God.” Humility, Falasca said, “was so embedded in him, that he understood it as the only way to reach Christ.”
Luciani’s connection with the Lord was also evident in the way that he spoke about God, she said, explaining that he was able to make the love of God close to people, and felt by them.
Falasca said she believes he is an ideal model of the priesthood. To this end, she recalled how during her time working on Luciani’s cause, many young priests came to her saying they felt the call of their vocation when they saw his election on TV.
Another sign of his sanctity was the “spontaneous reputation” that grew over time, and is a “distinctive sign” in determining the heroic virtue of a person.
“The reputation for holiness is the condition ‘sine quo non’ (without which it could not be) to open a cause of canonization; there must be a reputation,” she said, and “Luciani enjoys much of it, and he enjoys it not in an artificial way.”
Many people pray to him and have continued to travel to his birth town over the past 40 years, she said, because people are attracted “by his charm.”
“He won over many with his stand in the face of contemporaneity, his closeness to the people of his time with that simplicity and with that familiarity of communication.”
Luciani opened “a new season in being and in the exercise of the Petrine ministry…with his charm, which knew how to conjugate in perfect synthesis, in my view, what was old and what was new.”
He also lived an extraordinary sense of poverty of spirit as seen in the Beatitudes, and had an “extreme fidelity to the Gospel in the circumstance and the status that he embraced.”
In a testimony given for documentation in the Luciani’s cause for canonization, Benedict XVI said that when Luciani appeared on the balcony in his white cassock after his election, “we were all deeply impressed by his humility and his goodness.”
“Even during the meals, then, he was took a place with us. So thanks to a direct contact we immediately understood that the right Pope had been elected.”
Benedict XVI’s testimony regarding John Paul I is four pages long and is one of the documents included in Falasca’s book. In her comments to CNA, she said they had originally planned to interview him in 2005 while he was still a cardinal, but he was elected Pope on the same day he was scheduled to speak, and since a Pope is technically the one judging a saints’ cause, he is not allowed to give testimony for it.
However, there are currently no previsions for a retired Pope, so when Benedict XVI resigned in 2013, Falasca and her team advancing Luciani’s cause reached out again, receiving the testimony that has now been published in her book.
In his testimony, Benedict recalled that he first met Luciani while the latter was Patriarch of Venice. He had decided to visit the seminary in Bressanone with his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, for vacation in August 1977, shortly after becoming a bishop.
Luciani came to visit the brothers after learning of their visit, and to go out of his way to do this in the oppressive heat of August “was a expression of a nobility of spirit that went well beyond usual,” Benedict wrote. “The cordiality, simplicity and goodness that he showed to me are indelibly impressed in my memory.”
Benedict said he was shocked when he received news of John Paul I’s death in the middle of the night and didn’t initially believe it, but slowly accepted the news in Mass the next day, during which the celebrant offered prayer for the “deceased Pope John Paul I.”
Speaking of John Paul I’s pontificate, Benedict noted that in 1978 it was evident that “the post-conciliar Church was passing through a great crisis, and the good figure of John Paul I, who was a courageous man on the basis of faith, represented a sign of hope.” And this figure, he said, still represents “a message” for the Church today.
Benedict also noted that during the various public speeches Luciani gave, whether it was a general audience or a Sunday Angelus, the late Pope “spoke several times off-the-cuff and with the heart, touching the people in a much more direct way.”
Luciani often called children up to him during general audiences to ask them about their faith, Benedict said, explaining that “his simplicity and his love for simple people were convincing. And yet, behind that simplicity was a great and rich formation, especially of the literary type.”
So far hundreds of graces and favors have been recorded for those who pray to Luciani, and there are already two miracles being studied and considered for his beatification and eventual canonization. Falasca said they are currently trying to decide which to present first.
Madrid, Spain, Nov 17, 2017 / 12:15 am (ACI Prensa).- Fr. Joseph of Jesus is a Chinese priest, faithful to the Catholic Church. Life is not easy for Catholics in China. Those who adhere to Rome are persecuted by the Chinese government, which only grants freedom of worship to those belonging to the state-controlled Patriotic Church.
Fr. Joseph recently shared his story on the “In the Footsteps of the Nazarene” program by the EUK Mamie Foundation, run by the Home of the Mother of Youth congregation of religious sisters.
His back faces the camera in the interview, and the precise details of his life in China, as well as his precise location – he is currently in Europe – are withheld for security reasons.
Fr. Joseph described what it was like growing up in a Catholic family in China. He is the third of five children, despite the rigid one-child policy instituted by the Chinese government.
“From time to time when the police would come into town, my parents had to go into hiding, away from us,” he said. “My older brother took care of us, we also had to hide everything we had in the house, because if the government discovered there was more than one child, they could take everything away from us.”
“Because they had more than one child, some Catholic parents had their houses destroyed and they were left with nothing,” the priest said.
“It was a test of faith, because as a child you don’t understand why it is that because you’re Catholic you have to live on less food and be separated from your parents,” he said.
However, he still persevered in his faith. His brother is also a Catholic priest.
The Catholic faith was maintained through “the domestic Church,” with families praying Lauds or Vespers secretly, and especially the Rosary.
“The Rosary is what gave us the strength for years because we didn’t have the sacraments or priests; but the faithful prayed every day at least one Rosary in the early morning and another one at night,” and at the end they said a “prayer to Our Lady of Fatima who gave us the strength to live as true Christians,” he recounted.
At age 15, Fr. Joseph felt that he was being called to the priesthood.
“I was thinking that in China there are a lot of people who don’t know Christ and the Catholic Church because we Christians are a minority,” he said. “So I thought that when I finished my studies I would go to the seminary and become a priest. That moment changed my life because I saw what the Lord wanted for me.”
He was inspired in his decision by the local pastor in the area, a dedicated priest responsible for 60 villages, who would celebrate Mass in the five largest villages, traveling from one to the next by bicycle.
“He’s an example of faithfulness to Christ and the Church because he didn’t want to be part of the official Chinese church and consequently he had to spend some time in prison or under house arrest,” Fr. Joseph said.
However, the priest accepted the sufferings that came to him, Fr. Joseph said, adding that at more than 80 years of age, that priest still wakes up at 3:30 every morning to pray and celebrate Mass.
“His exemplary life was decisive for me in finding my vocation. He is a priest for everyone, with such exemplary dedication.”
For more than 60 years, Catholics have faced persecution in China. The government-endorsed church, known as the “Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association” is loyal to Chinese communist authorities, who claim the right to decide whom to appoint as bishops, an authority that the Catholic Church reserves to the Pope.
Catholics who choose to remain loyal to Rome, particularly to the Pope’s juridical authority to appoint bishops autonomously, make up the “underground Church,” with its own bishops, priests, and lay faithful.
“There are…30 bishops of the underground Church who are not recognized by the state and so they cannot freely exercise their ministry,” Fr. Joseph said. “They are under house arrest and under surveillance, there are people who monitor their visits, whom they meet and their topics of conversation. Priestly ordinations are done in secret with no else knowing about it.”
Being part of the Catholic Patriotic Association would make life easier – with public Masses, a regular schedule, and the right to worship freely. But Fr. Joseph chooses to remain loyal to Rome despite the hardships.
“Fundamentally it’s not the same because the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic,” he said. “The Patriotic Church is independent from Rome and I can’t accept that, because of my faith.”
Challenges abound, but the life of underground Christians in China is a witness of faith, Fr. Joseph said.
He asked for prayers that Chinese Christians may remain faithful, because “they teach us that the faith is much more precious than life, and that in living the faith we encounter Christ. We have to bear witness to those around us so those who don’t know the faith can find it.”
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Vatican City, Nov 16, 2017 / 09:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The European Union’s special envoy for religious freedom has called for “responsible freedom,” in the wake of the Vatican-based (Re)Thinking Europe conference, held Oct. 27 &ndas… […]
Washington D.C., Nov 16, 2017 / 04:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a major tax reform bill, which had drawn caution from the U.S. bishops, who had warned that it could place additional burdens on the working poor… […]
Vatican City, Nov 16, 2017 / 03:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to medical professionals Thursday, Pope Francis said that when it comes to end-of-life care, treatments should always be based on human dignity and with the patient’s best interests in mind.
He also stressed that the various medical options provided must avoid the temptation either to euthanize a patient or to pursue disproportionate treatments which do not serve the integral good of the person.
When it comes to caring for those at the end of their earthly life, “it could be said that the categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick,” the Pope said Nov. 16.
The anguish of being faced with our human mortality and the difficult decisions we have to make “may tempt us to step back from the patient,” he said, but cautioned that is the stage when we are most called to show love, closeness, and solidarity.
Each person – whether they are a parent, child, sibling, doctor or nurse – must give in their own way, he said, and even though there is not always a guarantee of healing or a cure, “we can and must always care for the living, without ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their death.”
In this sense, he pointed to the importance of palliative care, “which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome – pain and loneliness.”
Pope Francis offered his words in a message sent to participants in the World Medical Association’s Nov. 16-17 European Meeting on End-of-Life Questions, organized in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Life.
The Pope said “greater wisdom” is needed today when it comes to end-of-life care, “because of the temptation to insist on treatments that have powerful effects on the body, yet at times do not serve the integral good of the person.”
The increase in the “therapeutic capabilities of medical science” have made it possible to eliminate various diseases, improve health and prolong a person’s life, he said, noting that while these are certainly positive developments, there is now also the danger “to extend life by means that were inconceivable in the past.”
“Surgery and other medical interventions have become ever more effective, but they are not always beneficial: they can sustain, or even replace, failing vital functions, but that is not the same as promoting health.”
Referencing a speech given by Venerable Pius XII to anaesthesiologists and intensive care specialists in 1957, Francis said that “there is no obligation to have recourse in all circumstances to every possible remedy” for an illness, and that in specific cases, “it is permissible to refrain from their use.”
“Consequently, it is morally licit to decide not to adopt therapeutic measures, or to discontinue them, when their use does not meet that ethical and humanistic standard that would later be called ‘due proportion in the use of remedies,’” referencing the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1980 Declaration on Euthanasia.
The key element of this criterion, according to the CDF, is that it considers “the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources.”
This “makes possible a decision that is morally qualified as withdrawal of ‘overzealous treatment’,” the Pope said.
“Such a decision responsibly acknowledges the limitations of our mortality, once it becomes clear that opposition to it is futile.” He quoted the Catechism in saying that “here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted.”
“This difference of perspective restores humanity to the accompaniment of the dying, while not attempting to justify the suppression of the living,” he said.
“It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment; from an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.”
When it comes to concrete clinical situations, Pope Francis noted that various factors come into play that are not always easy to evaluate, and to determine whether a medical intervention is proportionate or not, “the mechanical application of a general rule is not sufficient.”
“There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved.”
Francis emphasized that when caring for any given patient, decisions must be made in light of human dignity. “In this process, the patient has the primary role,” he added.
“The patient, first and foremost, has the right, obviously in dialogue with medical professionals, to evaluate a proposed treatment and to judge its actual proportionality in his or her concrete case, and necessarily refusing it if such proportionality is judged lacking. That evaluation is not easy to make in today’s medical context, where the doctor-patient relationship has become increasingly fragmented and medical care involves any number of technological and organizational aspects.
Compounding this difficulty, the Pope said, is the “growing gap” in healthcare opportunities, which he said is due to “the combination of technical and scientific capability and economic interests.”
What this means, then, is that sophisticated and costly treatments are increasingly available to “ever more limited and privileged segments” of the population. This then raises questions regarding sustainable healthcare delivery and “a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care.”
This tendency, Francis said, “is clearly visible” on a global level, especially when comparing different continents. However, he noted this is also seen within wealthier countries, where access to healthcare “risks being more dependent on individuals’ economic resources than on their actual need for treatment.”
In this context, as it relates to both clinical practice and medical culture in general, “the supreme commandment of responsible closeness must be kept uppermost in mind,” he said.
Given the complexity of issues surrounding end-of-life care and the moral and ethical questions they raise, the Pope said democratic societies must address them “calmly, seriously and thoughtfully,” in a way open to finding agreeable solutions whenever possible, including on the legal level.
“On the one hand, there is a need to take into account differing world views, ethical convictions and religious affiliations, in a climate of openness and dialogue. On the other hand, the state cannot renounce its duty to protect all those involved, defending the fundamental equality whereby everyone is recognized under law as a human being living with others in society.”
Special attention must be paid to the vulnerable, who need help when it comes to defending their own interests, he said, noting that if this “core of values essential to coexistence” is weakened, then “the possibility of agreeing on that recognition of the other which is the condition for all dialogue and the very life of society will also be lost.”
Healthcare legislation must adopt this “broad vision and a comprehensive view” of what will most effectively promote the common good in each concrete case, he said, and closed by offering his prayer for the discussion.
“I also trust that you will find the most appropriate ways of addressing these delicate issues with a view to the good of all those whom you meet and those with whom you work in your demanding profession.”
Vatican City, Nov 16, 2017 / 12:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent a message Thursday to a conference on climate change, telling participants the problem is something that can’t be ignored, but must be met with a proactive desire to develop effective solutions.
“I would like to reiterate my urgent invitation to renew dialogue about the way in which we are building the future of the planet,” the Pope said Nov. 16.
“We need a solution that unites everyone, because the environmental challenge that we are living, and its human roots, involves and touches us all,” he said, noting that unfortunately many of the efforts to seek concrete solutions “are often frustrated by various motives that range from negating the problem to indifference, comfortable resignation or blind trust in technical solutions.”
Francis said we have to avoid falling into the “perverse attitudes” of denial, indifference, resignation, and trust in inadequate solutions, which “certainly do not help honest research and sincere dialogue on building the future of our planet.”
Pope Francis offered his words in a message to Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, for the U.N. COP-23 Climate Change conference taking place Nov. 6-17 in Bonn, Germany, and which is being presided over by the government of Fiji.
He noted how the gathering is taking place two years after the Paris Climate Agreement was reached, which reached a consensus on the need to develop “a shared strategy to counteract one of the most concerning phenomenons that our humanity is living: climate change.”
The Paris Agreement was an international climate accord reached in 2015 after representatives of more than 150 countries met for COP 21, or the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Signatories pledged on various levels to help reduce global carbon emissions and aim to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius, as compared to average temperatures from the pre-industrial age, by the end of the 21st century.
When the agreement was initially reached, Pope Francis hailed it as “historic” and said it would require “a concerted and generous commitment” from members of the international community. Over 190 countries have signed on to the agreement.
However, United States President Donald Trump decided earlier this year to pull out of the accord, arguing that the requirements would harm the U.S. economy and jobs.
In his message to the COP-23 conference, Pope Francis said the challenge of climate change requires the commitment of every country, some of whom “must try to assume a guiding role,” with due consideration for vulnerable populations.
He noted how in this year’s conference participants are trying to implement a new phase of the Paris agreement, which is “the process of defining and building guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms so that it can truly be effective and capable of contributing to the achievement of the complex objectives it proposes.”
In coming up with solutions, the Pope cautioned against limiting them only to the economic or technical dimensions, because “technical solutions are necessary but insufficient.”
Rather, he said “it’s essential and desirable to also keep in attentive consideration the ethical and social aspects and impacts of the new paradigm of development and progress in short, medium and long-term.”
To this end, Francis emphasized the need to focus on an education and lifestyle that are based on an integral ecology capable of assuming “a vision of honest research and open dialogue” where the various aspects of the Paris Agreement are intertwined.
The agreement, he said, calls for “serious responsibility to act without delay as freely as possible from political and economic pressures, overcoming particular interests and behaviors,” and requires a “responsible awareness” of our common home.
Pope Francis closed his message voicing his hope that the work done in the conference would be animated by the same “collaboration and proactive” spirit of the COP-21 conference in 2015.
“This will accelerate awareness-raising and the consolidation of the will to make effective decisions to counteract the phenomenon of climate change while at the same time fighting poverty and promoting a true integral human development.”