VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2002 ( John Paul II warned against "therapeutic cruelty" and called for commitment to medical research when he met a delegation of medical personnel.

The Pope made his appeal Saturday when he received a delegation of members of the World Organization of Gastroenterology (, which met in Rome to address the prevention of cancer in the digestive system. The organization, founded in Paris in 1954, embraces 88 national associations.

"Exasperated therapeutic cruelty, even with the best intentions, in addition to being useless, would not fully respect the patient who has reached a terminal state," the Pope said.

John Paul II added that "the growing availability of technical and pharmacological resources allow for quickly discerning, in the majority of cases, the symptoms of cancer and thus intervening with greater rapidity and efficacy."

The Holy Father requested doctors "to continue with trust and tenacity in both research and therapy, using the most advanced scientific resources."

In regard to doctors´ relations with patients, the Bishop of Rome reminded the former "that man is a limited and mortal being."

"One must approach a patient with a healthy realism that avoids arousing in the person who suffers the illusion of the omnipotence of medicine," the Pope continued. "There are limits that are not humanly possible to overcome; in these cases one must know how to serenely accept one´s own human condition, that the believer knows how to read in the light of the divine will."

John Paul II reminded his listeners that "the complexity of the human person demands that, in giving the necessary treatments, the spirit, as well as the body, be taken into account. It would be presumptuous to count on technology alone."

"The concept of health, very dear to Christian thought, contrasts with a vision of it that reduces it to a purely psycho-physical equilibrium. Such a vision neglects the spiritual dimensions of the person, and would end up jeopardizing the true good," the Pope continued.

With this spirit, "informing citizens with respect and truth, especially when they have pathological conditions, constitutes a true and proper mission for those who care for the public health," the Holy Father concluded.