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Pope Says Equal Access to Health Care a Question of Justice

Notes 3 Points of Social Doctrine That Should Inform Policies

In an address to the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Pope Francis affirmed that there should be “equal access to effective care for equal health needs, independently of factors connected with socio-economic, geographical or cultural contexts,” since this is a demand of justice.

The Pope said this in an address to the 31st International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, which was held last Thursday through Saturday.

The theme of this year’s conference was Towards a Culture of Health that is Welcoming and Supportive: at the Service of People with Rare and Neglected Pathologies.

In the Pope’s address, he highlighted three points, the first being that protection of the environment is also a health issue.

“But even when the causes [for these diseases] are genetic,” he said, “a polluted environment acts as a multiplier of damage. And the greatest burden falls on the poorest populations.”

He then emphasized the Church’s priority to be a “field hospital” for the marginalized of any situation.

Fundamental principles

The Holy Father’s third point dealt with justice, saying that equal access to health care is a way of “giving to each his or her due.”

He said that the reason for this rests on three “fundamental principles of the social doctrine of the Church.”

—Sociality, according to which the good of the person reverberates through the entire community. Therefore, care for health is not only a responsibility entrusted to the stewardship of the person himself or herself. It is also a social good, in the sense that the more individual health grows, the more ‘collective health’ will benefit from this, not least at the level, as well, of the resources that are freed up for other chapters of illness that require demanding research and treatment.

—Subsidiarity which, on the one hand, supports, promotes and develops socially the capacity of each person in attaining fulfilment and his or her legitimate and good aspirations, and, on the other, comes to the aid of a person where he or she is not able on his or her own to overcome possible obstacles, as is the case, for example, with an illness.

Solidarity, with which a health-care strategy should be marked, and which must take the person as a value and the common good into account.

The Pontiff proposed that these three cornerstones “can be shared by anybody who holds dear the eminent value of the human being,” and that with them “one can identify realistic, courageous, generous and supportive solutions to addressing even more effectively, and to solving, the health-care emergency of ‘rare’ and ‘neglected’ diseases.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-health-care-workers/

About Kathleen Naab

United States

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