Donate now

Press office of the Quirinale

Like This, We Must Proceed: Caring for Sick Children, as a Sign of Jesus and His Church, Urges Cardinal Parolin

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin Joins Celebrations for 150 Years of Vatican’s “Bambino Gesu” Pediatric Hospital

We must proceed like this: caring for sick children, as a sign of the charity of Jesus Christ and the Church…

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, stressed this today, March 19, 2019, during the celebrations for the 150 years of the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital, noting what a “great joy” it was for him to do so.

“I greet you all with warm cordiality and I bring you the affectionate closeness and blessing of Pope Francis,” he said.

The Cardinal praised the hospital’s work, noting what it has accomplished in the past century and a half.

“What is the identity of the Bambino Gesu Hospital?” he asked, noting: “It is rooted in Jesus’ words in Chapter 25 of Saint Matthew’s Gospel: ‘I was sick and you visited me.’”

“To visit the sick,” he reminded, “is one of the corporal works of mercy, one of the works of love, which should characterize the style of individual Christians and of Christian communities.”

The Vatican diplomat encouraged the institution to go forward, without compromise.

“We want to continue to proceed like this,” he said, “with passion, in the present in our great task: that of taking care of sick children, including those that don’t have the possibility in their country, as a sign of the charity of Jesus Christ and of the His Church and, therefore, to open ourselves and to embrace with hope the future that is before us.”

The Church, he reminded, has translated it into many ways, among others, by giving life to hospitals and other care institutions and multiplying them in the course of time, “as sign of her constant attention to the human person’s situations — particularly of the weakest and most vulnerable — and of her will and capacity to put herself at their service.”

“I will dare to describe” the attitude of the Church, “as ‘prophetic,’ namely, in the sense of being able to receive, with promptness and often ahead of the civil society, the needs and necessities of a specific time and to come to meet them,” he said.

Cardinal Parolin acknowledged that Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital has distinguished itself for its authentic help, support, leadership and solidarity, in helping the suffering. Today, he recalled, the scenario has changed radically in relation to the time when the Hospital was taking its first steps.

“The person of the sick must be respected in his dignity and kept always at the center of the process of care,” exhorted Pope Francis in the Message for the 2018 World Day of the Sick.

“To put the sick person at the center means, among other things, to be able to combine the action of “curing” the sickness with that of “taking care” of the whole patient, his person and his affective, relational, psychological and also spiritual world.”

In the course of its history, Cardinal Parolin continued, the Bambino Gesu Hospital has offered continually its contribution to the growth of Italian health care, “initially by guarantying the access to care to sick little ones and then developing the commitment to scientific research, geared to obtaining, in 1985, the Institute of Research and Care of Scientific Character recognition.”

“Today,” he said, “it is one of the excellencies at the European and world level. The headquarters, in which our meeting is being held, is the largest European research center dedicated to pediatric cures.”

Cardinal Parolin concluded, praising the hospital’s achievements, and encouraging them, with their faith, to move forward.

***

Intervention of H.E. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State on the Occasion of the Opening of the Celebrations for the 150 Years of the “Bambino Gesu” Paediatric Hospital

Rome, March 19, 2019

Mr President of the Republic

Distinguished Authorities,

Mrs President, Members of the Council of Administration and

Representatives of the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

It’s a motive of great joy for me to take part in the opening meeting of the celebrations for the 150 years of the Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital. I greet you all with warm cordiality and I bring you the affectionate closeness and blessing of Pope Francis.

In this particularly significant moment, the indications also apply that the Holy Father gave in 2014, on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life: and that is that every anniversary is an occasion to look at the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion, <and> to embrace the future with hope (Cf. Apostolic Letter for the Year of Consecrated Life).

Therefore, we look with gratitude to the past 150 years! Our gratitude goes to God, giver of every good, and to all the people that, in this now long period, have done their work with dedication, generosity, selflessness and professionalism, in favour of the small patients.

To look at the past and to recount its history is indispensable to keep its identity alive, to strengthen unity within the community and to foster the sense of belonging of its members.

What is the identity of the Bambino Gesu Hospital? It is rooted in Jesus’ word in chapter 25 of Saint Matthew’s Gospel: “I was sick and you visited me.” To visit the sick is one of the corporal works of mercy, one of the works of love, which should characterize the style of individual Christians and of Christian communities.

The Church has translated it into many ways, among others, by giving life to hospitals and other care institutions and multiplying them in the course of time, as sign of her constant attention to the human person’s situations — particularly of the weakest and most vulnerable — and of her will and capacity to put herself at their service, with an attitude that I will dare to describe as “prophetic,” namely, in the sense of being able to receive, with promptness and often ahead of the civil society, the needs and necessities of a specific time and to come to meet them. The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council spoke of the Church’s permanent duty to scrutinize the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel (Cf. GS, n. 4). It seems to me possible to also apply in our case these words of Gaudium et Spes, the document that treats of the presence and mission of the Church in the contemporary world. In fact, 150 years ago, when the Bambino Gesu Hospital arose, hospitals specifically dedicated to the care of children didn’t exist.

It is an expression of that imagination of charity” that Pope Saint John Paul II recalled in the Apostolic Exhortation Novo Millennio Ineunte, published at the end of the Great Jubilee of 2000. Charity is inventive; charity is creative. “Ubi amor ibi oculos,” affirmed Riccardo di San Vittore. Where there is love, the look is there, the eyes are there to see, to be aware, to realize. And they are eyes to provide, to rescue, to help, not only with sporadic acts of beneficence, but carrying out works able to interpret and respond in the present, to the exigencies of the neediest and to project the future. This “imagination of charity” — explained the Pope — must be deployed “not so much and not only in the efficacy of the help given, but in the capacity of making oneself close, <and> solidary with one who suffers. In such a way that the gesture of help is felt not as humiliating alms but as fraternal sharing.”

The Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital was born of an inspired intuition, found its concreteness in a project, grew with the leadership of individuals and with the support of the community, and was distinguished in its history for being solidary with one who suffers, in addition to being effective in the help given.

Today the scenario has changed radically in relation to the time when the Hospital was taking its first steps. In Italy a National Health Service system was started and consolidated, which aspires to bring about the principle of equality proclaimed in the Third Article of the Constitution. All citizens, rich or poor, young or adult, have a right to care; in this way life is protected and promoted.

This system involves diverse institutional actors, such as the Regions and the State and at the same time interweaves private action with public action. It’s a complex reality that is constantly followed, governed, supported and stimulated, so that the level of services offered and their quality is always appropriate to the human dignity of every sick person. “The person of the sick must be respected in his dignity and kept always at the center of the process of care,” exhorted Pope Francis in the Message for the 2018 World Day of the Sick. To put the sick person at the center means, among other things, to be able to combine the action of “curing” the sickness with that of “taking care” of the whole patient, his person and his affective, relational, psychological and also spiritual world.

In the course of its history, the Bambino Gesu Hospital has offered continually its contribution to the growth of Italian health care, initially by guarantying the access to care to sick little ones and then developing the commitment to scientific research, geared to obtaining, in 1985, the IRCCS (Institute of Research and Care of Scientific Character) recognition. Today it is one of the excellencies at the European and world level. The headquarters, in which our meeting is being held, is the largest European research center dedicated to pediatric cures. Cure passes necessarily by research, which always requires important investments in structures, technologies and human resources. It’s essential to invest in ways of scientific innovation to respond to the challenges of the future.

Although the situation is radically changed in regard to the times of the first pioneering experiences, the Church will not cease to care for the sick, with that look of love and with that “prophetic” attitude that I recalled earlier.  I’m thinking in particular of the new health poverties: chronic and rare illnesses, mental disturbances, the elderly and the marginalized. The last will always be protected, there will always be families to involve in the action of care, networks will have to be activated so that no one is left alone. Because — as Pope Francis reminded us in this year’s Message for the World Day of the Sick “health is relational, it depends on interaction with others and has need of trust, friendship and solidarity; it’s a good that can be ‘fully’ enjoyed only if it’s shared.”

The natural environment in which the Bambino Gesu Hospital carries out its task is within the National Health Service, where it intends to continue to be a leader in Rome, in Lazio and in Italy. However, the Hospital is also an expression of the Catholic Church, whose horizon is, by definition, universal. If our look is not directed to the peripheries of the world, we will not be responding to our vocation — once again, “ubi amor ibi oculos”! The concrete style of this mission — which means sharing of knowledge, formation <and> accompaniment — has found a beautiful realization in the recent opening of the Hospital of Bangui, in the Central African Republic. It is a testimony that for the Bambino Gesu Hospital there are no walls or borders, or races or religious memberships that separate from charity.

We want to continue to proceed like this, with passion, in the present, in our great task: that of taking care of sick children, including those that don’t have the possibility in their country, as a sign of the charity of Jesus Christ and of the His Church and, therefore, to open ourselves and to embrace with hope the future that is before us.

Thank you.

[Working translation by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

Share this Entry

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation