Pope Francis made this strong appeal today, Sept. 20, to doctors and dental surgeons who he received in the Vatican.
Addressing the National Federation of the Orders of Doctors and Dental Surgeons, much of the Holy Father’s remarks stressed the importance of their work, and its ethical dimensions.
“We must always remember that illness, the object of your concerns, is more than a clinical fact, medically circumscribable,” he told them. “It is always the condition of a person, the sick person.”
It is with this entirely human vision, Francis said, that doctors are called to relate to the patient, “considering therefore his singularity as a person who has an illness, and not only a case of whatever illness that patient has.”
Doctors, along with due technical-professional competence, Francis said, must respect a code of values and meanings which gives meaning to their work. He also called on them to make each individual clinical case a human encounter.
“Faced, therefore, with any change in medicine and in the society you have identified,” he said, “it is important that the doctor does not lose sight of the uniqueness of each patient, with his dignity and his fragility. A man or a woman to be accompanied with conscience, intelligence and heart, especially in the most serious situations. With this attitude we can and must reject the temptation – also induced by legislative changes – to use medicine to support a possible willingness to die of the patient, providing assistance to suicide or directly causing death by euthanasia.”
“These,” Francis lamented, “are hasty ways of dealing with choices that are not, as they might seem, an expression of the person’s freedom, when they include the discarding of the patient…, or false compassion in the face of the request to help anticipate death.”
The Holy Father reminded them that the New Charter for Health Care Workers states: “There is no right to dispose arbitrarily of one’s life, so no doctor can become an executive guardian of a non-existent right” (169).
Reminding them of his prayers and entrusting them to Mary, Pope Francis reiterated “the intrinsic and undeniable” ethical dimension of the healthcare profession.
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