Pope Francis encouraged Italian health representatives from religious institutions to always keep in mind the poorest and the forgotten in society.
Just one verse each day.
Pope Francis denounced “a hidden and progressive euthanasia” that consists of depriving the elderly of the treatments they need in order to “save money.” He said this in a speech to the members of the Italian Religious Association of Social and Health Institutes (ARIS), whom he received on April 13, 2023, at the Vatican.
“An elderly person has to take medicine, and if in order to save money or for this or that reason they do not give him these medicines, it is a hidden and progressive euthanasia,” the Pope denounced.
During his speech, the 86-year-old Pontiff noted the tendency of hospitals to shorten hospitalizations, treating “the most acute phases of illness” but not “chronic conditions.”
“As a result, these [chronic conditions], especially for the elderly, are also becoming a serious problem from an economic point of view, with the risk of favoring paths that are little respectful of the very dignity of people,” the Pope insisted.
Always place the marginalized first in line
As he often does, Francis also highlighted the need to prioritize those who are forgotten by society. Francis criticized the “logic of profit” while asking the workers to show with their presence “God’s closeness to the sick, especially the most disadvantaged and marginalized.”
“Every person has a right to medicine,” he explained. “The elderly who have to take four or five medicines and only manage to get two: this is progressive euthanasia, because you don’t give them what they need to take care of themselves.”
The head of the Catholic Church also called this association involved in the management of Christian health structures to be “vigilant” and not to “speculate on the misfortunes of others.”
“We need to take paths of discernment and make courageous choices, reminding ourselves that our vocation is to stand on the frontier of need; our vocation is that: on the frontier of need. As the Church, we are called to respond above all to the health demands of the poorest,” the Pope encouraged. “These are the most important ones for us, the ones that are first in line.”
The Pontiff explained also that regardless of a sick person’s economic situation “no one, no one should feel alone in illness!”
“Sometimes those who are rich find themselves more lonely and abandoned than those who are poor,” he explained.
The Pope’s concerns about Italy
The Bishop of Rome also expressed his concern about the resurgence of “health poverty” in Italy, which is taking on “major proportions, especially in regions marked by more difficult socio-economic situations.”
“There are people who due to scarcity of means cannot get treatment, for whom even paying a prescription is a problem; and there are people who have difficulty accessing health services because of very long waiting lists, even for urgent and necessary visits!” Francis explained.
The Pontiff also gave various pieces of advice to religious health institutions. He recommended they join together in “networks, shunning any competitive spirit”; that they create “new legal entities” to help “the smallest realities” and that they offer the sick “integral care,” which includes “spiritual and religious assistance.”
He also warned against the “current danger” that religious hospitals become “alienated” due to “economic reasons.”
The Pope called on the members of ARIS to “make courageous choices,” following the example of the great holy founders of hospitals such as St. Camillus de Lellis, St. Giuseppina Vannini, St. Giuseppe Moscati or St. Agostina Pietrantoni.
Francis, who was hospitalized two weeks earlier for bronchitis, left his audience with the question: “What would these Founders and Foundresses do today?”