Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pope Francis affirms the Gospel of Life as a tool of Evangelization

The following is the text of Pope Francis speech to gynecologists and medical providers on Sept 20, 2013.  The original text is in Italian and not available in English - I've done my best to translate:


Clementine Hall
Friday , September 20, 2013

Pope Francis - remarks to gynecologists and medical providers:

I apologize for the delay, because today ... this is a morning too complicated for audiences ... I apologize.

1. The first point that I would like to share with you is this: [what] we are witnessing today is a paradoxical situation, in dealing with the medical profession. On the one hand we see - and thank God [for this] - the progress of medicine, thanks to the work of scientists who, with passion and with sparing no effort, are dedicated to finding new cures. On the other hand, however, we find also the danger that the doctor might lose his/her identity as a servant of life. The cultural disorientation has also affected what looked like an unassailable area: your medical care, as by the nature at their service of life, the health professions are sometimes induced to disregard life itself. Instead, as we remember the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate , "openness to life is at the center of true development." There is no true development without this openness to life. "If you lose the personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life, then other forms of acceptance of lives that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fiber and makes people capable of mutual help "(n. 28). The paradoxical situation is seen in the fact that while you give the person new rights, sometimes even alleged rights, this does not always protect the life as a primary value and basic right of every man. The final objective of doctor is always the defense and promotion of life.

2. The second point:  which in this context, should be heard, is that the Church appeals to the conscience, the conscience of all health care professionals and volunteers. In a special way you Gynecologists, are called to collaborate in the creation of new human lives. Yours is a unique vocation and mission, which requires study, conscience and humanity. At one time, the women who helped in childbirth called "co-mothers"  i.e. midwives were like a mother to the infant, and the mother. You too are "co-mothers" and "co-fathers", too.

A widespread mentality of profits, the "culture of waste", which now enslaves the hearts and minds of many, has a very high cost: it requires eliminating human beings, especially if they are physically or socially weaker. Our response to this mentality is a "yes" to life first, without hesitation! "The first right of the human person is his/her life. S/He has other goods and some of them are more precious than other things, but the right to life, is the fundamental right, before all other rights or things. "(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , Declaration on Procured Abortion , November 18, 1974, 11). Things have a price and are sold, but people have a dignity, worth more than things and do not have monetarial value i.e. are priceless. Many times, we find ourselves in situations where we see what happens when life is devalued. For this attention to human life in its totality has become in recent years a real priority of the Magisterium of the Church, particularly to the most defenseless, that is, the disabled, the sick, the unborn child, the child, the elderly, i.e. the most defenseless life.

In the fragile human, each of us is invited to recognize the face of the Lord, who in his human flesh has experienced the indifference and loneliness that often condemn the poorest, both in countries in the developing world, as well as in affluent societies . Every child not [allowed to be] born, but unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, the Lord's face before s/he was born, and likewise, every newborn, many of whom have experienced rejection in the world. And also, every senior,  - I talked about the child: let's go to the elderly, another point! Every elderly person, sick, or even if at the end of his/her days, carries the face of Christ. You can not discard [any life], as we proposed [what happens in] the "culture of waste"! You can not discard life!

3. The third aspect is a mandate: be witnesses and speakers of this "culture of life" . Your being Catholic entails greater responsibility: first of all to yourself, for the effort to be consistent with the Christian vocation, and then to contemporary culture, to help recognize the transcendent dimension in human life, the imprint of the creative work of God, from the very first moment of conception. This is a commitment to the new evangelization that often requires going against the current, and often, paying for your stand in popularity. The Lord counts on you to spread the "Gospel of life."

In this perspective the gynecology hospital departments are privileged places of witness and evangelization, because wherever the Church is, "the vehicle of the presence of God" living at the same time becomes an "instrument of the true humanization of man and the world" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization , 9). Growing awareness that the focus of medical care is the human person in a position of weakness, the health facility becomes' the place where the care relationship is not merely, a job - the job is of caring relationship - but a mission , where the charity of the Good Samaritan is the defining precept and the face of the sufferer, the Face of Christ "(Benedict XVI, Address at the University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome , May 3, 2012).

Dear Friends and doctors, who are called to take care of human life in its initial phase, remind everyone, with facts and words, life is always, in all its phases and at any age, sacred and is always quality. And not for the reason of faith - no, no - but with science and reason! There is no human life more sacred than another, as there is a no human life qualitatively more significant than another. The credibility of a health care system is measured not only for efficiency, but also for the attention and love [extended] towards people, whose life is always sacred and inviolable.

Do not ever neglect to pray to the Lord and the Virgin Mary for having the strength to do your job well and bear witness with courage - courage! Today it takes courage - with courage witness with the "Gospel of life"! Thanks a lot.