L'Osservatore Romano

'More a Family, Than Hospital' (Pope's Meeting With Children Recovering at Rome's “Bambino Gesu” Pediatric Hospital)

‘You are a family! What is more important than a family? The mother, the father, older siblings, grandparents, children . . . each one is more important, and you are all important’

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Yesterday afternoon,  April 10, 2017, Pope Francis met, in the Auletta of Paul VI Hall, with a group of children and youngsters recovering at the “Bambino Gesu” Paediatric Hospital of Rome, who were accompanied by their parents and the doctors looking after them. The youngsters — between five and 18 years old — are protagonists in the RAI [Italian Radio and Television] television series “The Children of the Bambino Gesu.” Present, among others, were the President of the Paediatric Hospital, Mariella Enoc and RAI’s Director General, Antonio Campo Dall Orto.
Here is a translation of the transcription of the Holy Father’s words in the course of the meeting.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Words 
After the presentation and photos, the Pope read a note that was given to him by the children:
Dear Francis, thank you for meeting with us; we are happy to be here because you give us hope and courage for tomorrow. We love you – thank you! The children of the Bambin Gesu.”
The Pope Speaks again:
Thank you for these photographs, for this book, also for the dedication.
There are so many stories. Each one of you is a story. Not only the sick children, but also the doctors, the nurses, those that visit, the families . . .
I will say two things that come to me now.
I noted down one when you came . . . two months ago? . . . Last December 15. I greeted you and it was Dr Enoc who accompanied me in the greeting, with a doctor, and they introduced me to the persons. They knew everyone’s, each one’s name: “This one is struggling with this sickness . . .” They even knew what was happening in their life. And I perceived – you also said it, and then I will take up what you said – I perceived that, more than a hospital, this is a family, which is one of the words that you had said. The name, the person was more important, and only at the end was the sickness mentioned, but as an incident, a secondary thing. There is a family <here>, no?
And then the other we saw now, no? You were there somewhat embarrassed to stand up and make a bad impression in front of this device [the telecamera] and the Directress, who is a bit like a mother, approached you and said “Come,” and she gave you courage. This is lovely in a family, it’s lovely . . . To go into a hospital always makes one afraid; I see it when I approach some children – not all, but some – little ones, who see me in white <and> begin to cry, thinking it’s the doctor to give them a vaccination, and they cry and are afraid, then I give them two caresses and they calm down. Because there is always the function, the hospital . . . this must be done . . . and there is the danger, the risk of forgetting the most important medicine that only a family can give: caresses! It is a very expensive medicine, because to have it, to be able to give it you must give your all, put your whole heart into it, all your love. And here there are caresses! — the caresses of the doctors, of the nurses, of the Directress, of all.
In this last period, the Bambin Gesu has grown so much, and it has become a family . . . The child, the sick <child> finds a family there. Family and community, two words that you said and repeated, and I want to thank you for this, because the Bambin Gesu is a testimony, a human testimony . . . Human. It’s a Catholic hospital, and to be Catholic you must first be human, and you give a human testimony, today. Please, continue on this way always; grow on this way.
I thank you. And before greeting you one by one, because in a family we must all be polite and greet one another, I will ask Dr Enoc to tell us something about the projects, about Syria . . .
Dr Enoc takes the floor
[. . .] 
Then the Pope speaks again:
You saw that the Vatican heliport was also taken by her (he laughs), and when there are children who must arrive in the hospital urgently, they arrive by helicopter here and go on to the other side. She knows how to move, but not only she, all, because this spirit has been contagious, and you infected her and so one <infects> another. You are a family! What is more important than a family? The mother, the father, older siblings, grandparents, children . . . each one is more important, and you are all important, but always together.
Now, before greeting you one by one, we’ll ask the Lord to bless you.
[Blessing of the Pope]
And please pray for me; don’t forget! Thank you.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]  

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