VATICAN CITY — The principles of solidarity and subsidiarity should be used together to ensure everyone, including the person experiencing poverty, has access to suitable healthcare, Pope Francis said Friday.
In his message for the World Day of the Sick Jan. 3, the pope said it is a matter of social injustice that many people do not have access to adequate healthcare, especially those around the world living in poverty.
“For this reason, I urge healthcare institutions and government leaders throughout the world not to neglect social justice out of a preoccupation for financial concerns,” he said.
His hope, he added, is that “by joining the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, efforts will be made to cooperate in ensuring that everyone has access to suitable treatments for preserving and restoring their health.”
Pope Francis’ message for the 28th World Day of the Sick centered on Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
These words of Jesus are also for the sick, the oppressed, and the poor, he said: “Your sickness makes you in a particular way one of those ‘who labor and are burdened,’ and thus attract the eyes and heart of Jesus.”
He explained that experience of illness can make people realize “that they depend entirely on God and, beneath the burden of their trials, stand in need of his healing.”
“In him, you will find light to brighten your darkest moments and hope to soothe your distress,” he said. “In him, you will find strength to face all the worries and questions that assail you during this ‘dark night’ of body and soul.”
Pope Francis noted that people experiencing illness need a place to rest and said the Church wants to be this place, becoming like the “inn” of the Good Samaritan: “a home where you can encounter [Christ’s] grace, which finds expression in closeness, acceptance and relief.”
In the home of the Church, “you can meet people who, healed in their frailty by God’s mercy, will help you bear your cross and enable your suffering to give you a new perspective,” he stated.
The pope also spoke about the important role of healthcare professionals in making Christ’s presence felt by their patients. He urged those working in healthcare to always remember to put their patient first, giving the noun “person” priority over the adjective “sick.”
“In your work, may you always strive to promote the dignity and life of each person, and reject any compromise in the direction of euthanasia, assisted suicide or suppression of life, even in the case of terminal illness,” he said.
This means, he underlined, that conscientious objection may become a necessary decision at times.
He reminded “that life is sacred and belongs to God; hence it is inviolable and no one can claim the right to dispose of it freely,” adding that it “must be welcomed, protected, respected and served from its beginning to its end: both human reason and faith in God, the author of life, require this.”
Sustained by Christian charity, the professionalism of healthcare workers will be the best service they can offer “for the safeguarding of the truest human right, the right to life,” he added.
Pope Francis encouraged those who are suffering physically or mentally to find comfort in Jesus Christ, who knows what it is to experience human frailty and pain.
Jesus, he said, “looks upon a wounded humanity with eyes that gaze into the heart of each person,” and his “gaze is not one of indifference; rather, it embraces people in their entirety, each person in his or her health condition, discarding no one, but rather inviting everyone to share in his life and to experience his tender love.”
Pope Francis closed his message by entrusting all the ill, their families, and healthcare workers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Health of the Sick, assuring them of his prayers.