Pope Francis on November 16, 2019, received in audience in Paul VI Hall, the Community of the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital of Rome, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Hospital’s foundation.
Here is a translation of the address the Pope gave to those present.
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The Holy Father’s Address
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
I’m happy t meet with you as the great family of the “Bambino Gesu” Hospital, to celebrate together the 150 years of the foundation of this meritorious Institute belonging to the Holy See, which will never cease to pay great attention to you. I greet you all affectionately and I thank the President, Mrs. Mariella Enoc, for her words. I greet the members of the Administration Council, the doctors, the paramedic and nursing personnel, the chaplains, the volunteers, the benefactors; however, my greeting goes especially to the little patients and to their families, to all of you. In her account of the origins, which I will read with the other testimonies, Duchess Maria Grazia Salviati presented the birth of the Hospital to us as an intuition and as a gift. Intuition of a woman and mother of great intelligence, culture, and faith: Arabella Salviati, who lived in the fruitful season of social Catholicism, and gift of a generous family, which carried out a gesture of immense sensibility in favor of children of the whole world. In fact, that initial seed developed beyond the confines of the city of Rome, thanks to the donation of it made to the Pope, whose pastoral solicitude is extended wherever the Church is present. Thus the Paediatric Hospital became the patrimony not only of the Roman community but also of the Italian and international community.
So a great and beautiful reality was born at the vanguard and is still projected today to the future. I like very much the message you chose for your anniversary. “The Future Is a Story of Children.” And, being with children, we learn to frequent the future, which is a very important attitude. Courage is needed to frequent the future. The moral authority of the sick and suffering children is the truest identity of the ‘Bambino Gesu” Hospital. May this awareness be the engine of your acting together, in agreement and with a community spirit, overcoming obstacles and differences. May the children’s moral authority always be able to be a call to fidelity to the original vocation of this Hospital, and criterion of discernment for future choices. However, we can say somewhat simplistically, that they are the ones that command: they, the children, are the ones that command our works, our thoughts, our researches, and our actions.
I know, with emotion and gratitude, the story of the Venezuelan mother and her son Jerson, who was able to find at the “Bambino Gesu” the care of which he was in need. I thank the Hospital for its openness to the world, for having decided to take charge of the sufferings and of these children from so many countries. I’ve been told that more than once a week a helicopter lands in the Vatican’s heliport, bringing children from everywhere to the “Bambino Gesu.” I hope that the International Institutions are able to find the way to promote increasingly these health corridors, in the hope that in every country the capacity grows to respond to the fundamental health needs.
I want to pause on an expression used by the mother from Venezuela: she wrote of God’s blessing and of the “blessed and wonderful hands that received and cured her son. You doctors, surgeons, and nurses, don’t let your professional contribution and your zeal be lacking so that the typicality of this Institution is preserved. The commitment of all is needed for the “Bambino Gesu” Hospital to continue to manifest the Holy See’s special predilection for children, with its own style of loving care of the little patients, offering a concrete witness of the Gospel, fully in tune with what the Church teaches.
I like to bless the hands of doctors and nurses. Now I pause a bit in this address, which is long. I pause a bit to bless the hands of all the doctors and the nurses that are here, and also the hands of the doctors and the nurses of the “Bambino Gesu.” Lord, bless the hands of the doctors and nurses so that they are able to help the children in the course of their illness and of recovery to come out of the sickness
The testimony of the nurse, who with her colleagues carried out a long series of missions of formation in Syria, showed me a different aspect of the Hospital’s humanitarian activity and of its openness to the world: the willingness to share its knowledge and competencies with the health personnel of the most disadvantaged countries. It is “the charity of knowledge, which builds peace, as Saint John Paul II said (Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, November 12, 1983). It is for you, professionals of the “Bambino Gesu,” to restore that which was given to you in abundance and to receive, instead, so much richness of humanity. Each one teaches something to the other; it’s what happens in these missions of the “Bambino Gesu” abroad.
Your scientific Director referred with great enthusiasm in his writing, how care and research are the cornerstones of the Hospital’s activity: the better the research is, the better is the care. There is no cure without research. And there is no future in medicine without research. From this point of view, the “Bambino Gesu” has already projected for some time into the future, with important results in the field of diagnosis of rare diseases and the care of complex pathologies, with the development of precision therapies.
I admire the passion and enthusiasm that you put into your care and research work and I would like you never to lose the capacity to note the suffering face of a child, also behind a simple sample to be analyzed and to hear also the cry of parents inside your laboratories. The mystery of children’s suffering does not cease to speak to your consciences and to motivate your human and professional commitment. There comes to mind that question, to which it is difficult to find an answer, of the great Dostoyevski: “Why do children suffer?” Always keep this question alive: why does a child suffer? There is no answer: only service to the suffering child and the look to the Father of all, that He may do something.
Dear brothers and sisters, I am very happy about what I heard this morning, about what I saw, and more in general of the course made by the Bambino Gesu” in these years. I rejoice over the Hospital’s good performance and over its constant growth, although among many difficulties so that it is opportune in the coming years to continue to offer the best care to every patient, and so that no one is refused. This activity calls for resources and adequate spaces. The exigencies of scientific research and the growing request for assistance, also from abroad, will render necessary new investments, in the coming years, in the structures and in the technologies. It is a difficult balance, but it is important that sustainability and efficiency are always guaranteed so that the Hospital continues to be an extraordinary work of charity of the Church.
Therefore, I ask of all of you courageous and at the same time rigorous, generous and prudent choices. And I exhort you to go forward, faithful to the Gospel and obedient to the moral authority of suffering children. On my part, I am especially grateful because you help the little sick ones to feel next to them the tender and reassuring presence of Jesus. And let’s not forget His words: “All that you did for one of these my littlest brothers, you did for me (Matthew 25:40). Upon all the community of the Bambino Gesu” Hospital, I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing. And please, I ask you not to forget to pray for me.
ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester
© Libreria Editrice Vatican