Pope: a society is civilised when it does not 'discard' those who are at the end of their life

In a context like today’s in which human life is only seen from the point of view of "efficiency", especially in case of incurable or terminally ill patients, the Church reasserts the values ​​of solidarity and fraternity. Pope praises “all the good things hospices do in terms of palliative care, with the terminally sick receiving quality medical, psychological and spiritual support, so that they may live the final phase of their earthly life in dignity, reassured by the closeness of people dear to them.”


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In a context like today’s, which tends to consider human life only from the point of view of "efficiency", especially in case of incurable or terminally ill patients, the Church reasserts the values ​​of solidarity and fraternity.

Such principles have particular significance at present in a society in which “awareness about what makes human life precious is being progressively eroded,” said Pope Francis in his address to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In such a context, human life “is increasingly valued in terms of efficiency and usefulness, to the extent that the lives of those who do not meet such criteria can be ‘discarded’ or be seen as ‘unworthy’. In such a situation of loss of true values, the fundamental human and Christian duties of solidarity and fraternity are also lost.

“In reality, a society can be called ‘civilised’ [only] if it develops antibodies against the throwaway culture, if it recognises the intangible value of human life, if solidarity is actively practised and upheld as the foundation of living together.

“When sickness knocks at life’s door, increasingly we need someone who can look us in the eyes, hold our hand, show tenderness and take care of us, like the Good Samaritan in the evangelical parable (Cf. Message for the 23rd World Day of the Sick 2020, 11 February 2020).

A “relational rather than just a clinical approach to the patient, considered in the uniqueness and fullness of his or her personhood, imposes the duty of never abandoning anyone in case of incurable illnesses. Given its eternal fate, human life maintains all its value and dignity in any condition, be it precarious or fragile, and as such, it is always worthy of the utmost consideration.

“Saint Teresa of Kolkata, who lived a [life] style of closeness and sharing, of recognition and respect for human dignity until the end, who made dying more humane, said: ‘Whoever in the journey of life has even lit only a torch in the dark hour of someone has not lived in vain.’”

“In this regard, my thoughts go to all the good things hospices do in terms of palliative care, with the terminally sick receiving quality medical, psychological and spiritual support, so that they may live the final phase of their earthly life in dignity, reassured by the closeness of people dear to them. I hope that such facilities will continue to be places where the ‘therapy of dignity’ can be practised diligently, thus nurturing love and respect for life.”

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