Pope Francis today addressed some 300 members of the Italian Catholic Association of Healthcare Workers at the Vatican. The Holy Father recalled that any “medical intervention on human beings” must first be evaluated in terms of respect for “human life and dignity“. He also observed that conscientious objection “in extreme cases where the integrity of human life is endangered” is based on the “personal need not to act differently from one’s own ethical conviction“. Pope Francis then stressed the importance of “treating the sick as people and not as numbers” in these times of “cost cutting” and “rationalization of services“. Sick people cannot be treated “like a machine” and the health system, whether public or private, cannot “be thought of as an assembly line“.
Finally, the pope told caregivers: “The care you give the sick, who are so demanding and overwhelming, requires that you too be cared for“, including by provision of “adequate safeguards”. He emphasized the need to offer training that pays “special attention to spirituality, often neglected in our time but so important, especially for those who live with illness or are close to those who suffer. Keep your mind always alive,” he told his audience.