Pope to Oncologists: Don't Lose Sight of the Human Person

Francis Addresses Surgeons Treating Cancer Sufferers

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“My thoughts go to all the men and women you care for, and I pray for them,” Pope Francis told participants Saturday of a congress for surgeons who treat oncologoical patients.

The congress was organized by the Italian Society of Oncological Surgery.

The Pope began by acknowledging the benefits of scientific research, saying scientific research has «multiplied the possibilities of prevention and healing, it has allowed for the discovery of therapies that are indicated in caring for a variety of pathologies.

«This is your work as well: a highly valuable commitment that aims to respond to the expectations and the hopes of many ill people across the world,” he said.

Next, the Holy Father, underscored that although scientific research is beneficial, the human person must be completely respected. He said that “in order to be able to speak of full health it is necessary to not lose sight of the human person, created in the image of God, and who is unity of body and spirit.”

He noted how the Greeks precisely recognized: body, soul, and spirit. Francis then highlighted that “Man is that unity. It is possible to distinguish these two elements but not to separate them, because the human person is one. So disease, the experience of pain and suffering, do not regard solely the corporal dimension, but man in his totality.” He added that the need for integral care is a consequence of this truth.

Francis then referred to a message which had been communicated by Pope John Paul II as the role of medical operators and types of care. The Holy Father highlighted integral care, which “considers the person in his entirety» and that unites medical care – “technical care” – with human, psychological and social support.

«The physician must care for all: the human body, with its psychological, social and spiritual dimension as well as the spiritual accompaniment and support for the family members of the sick person,» the Pope said. «This means that it is indispensable that medical operators be ‘led by an integrally human view of illness and who as a result are able to affect a fully human approach to the sick person.’” (John Paul II, Motu Proprio Dolentium hominum, 11 February 1985).

Francis also encourage those present to see how recognizing every human person’s dignity changes our perspective for the better. “Brotherly sharing with the sick opens us to the true beauty of human life, including its fragility, helping us to recognize the dignity and the value of every human being, in whatever condition he or she may find himself, from conception to death,” he said.

The Holy Father closed by acknowledging how “only Christ gives meaning to the scandal of innocent suffering,” directing those present to look to Him in their daily work.

Franics also acknowledged Our Lady of Sorrows, saying “she is always close to her sick and suffering children.

«If our faith wavers, hers does not,» he said. «May Mary support you in your commitment towards research and work.” (D.C.L.)

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