John Paul II Calls for Review of Role of Hospitals, Including Catholic Ones

People Without Basic Medical Care Must Be Looked After, He Says

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 7, 2002 ( John Paul II appealed for a review of the role of hospitals, especially Catholic facilities, so that they will be places where suffering and death are given their human and Christian meaning.

The Pope made this proposal today when he met with participants in the 17th international Conference on the Identity of Catholic Health Institutions, which has gathered health experts and professionals at the Vatican, through Saturday.

The «role of hospitals, clinics and convalescent homes needs to be reconsidered,» the Holy Father stressed.

«These should not merely be institutions where care is provided for the sick or the dying,» he said. «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 institutions staffed by religious or in any way connected with the Church,» the Pontiff affirmed.

John Paul II emphasized that, in order to understand the identity of these health institutions, «we need to go to the heart of what the Church is, where the supreme law is love.»

«Catholic health institutions thus become privileged 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,» the Pontiff clarified.

Moreover, John Paul II pointed out that, among the many needy of our time are «those who are lacking even the most elementary medical care.»

Quoting the apostolic letter «Novo Millennio Ineunte,» No. 50, the Holy Father said that the «Church looks at these brothers and sisters of ours with particular concern, allowing herself to be inspired by a new ‘creativity in charity.'»

Lastly, the Pope expressed the desire for more effective cooperation between the Catholic and public health institutions, «united in the common desire to serve man, especially the weakest and those who, in fact, are not supported socially.»

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