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​Rediscovering self-giving for more humane health care

· The Pope encourages volunteers working among the sick and warns against a mentality of profit at any price ·

The mentality of self-giving must inspire the activity of those who work alongside the sick and suffering, especially in Catholic healthcare facilities. Pope Francis reminds us of this in his Message for the 27th World Day of the Sick – which will be celebrated on 11 February in Calcutta, India. In the Message, the Holy Father urges us to rediscover “a spirit of generosity” and “of solidarity in response to the mentality of profit at any price, of giving for the sake of getting, and of exploitation over concern for people”.

Issued on Tuesday morning, 8 January, the Message emphasizes that “caring for the sick requires professionalism, tenderness, straightforward and simple gestures freely given, like a caress that makes others feel loved”. Faced with the prevailing “culture of waste and indifference”, the Pope recommends “the gift” as the category “best suited to challenging today’s individualism and social fragmentation, while at the same time promoting new relationships and means of cooperation between peoples and cultures”. In this sense Francis invites us to rediscover the power of dialogue, “the premise of gift” which “creates possibilities for human growth and development capable of breaking through established ways of exercising power in society”.

Recognizing that “each of us is poor, needy and destitute”, the Pope observes that only “if we see ourselves, not as a world apart, but in a fraternal relationship with others, can we develop a social practice of solidarity aimed at the common good”. Therefore, “we should not be afraid to regard ourselves as needy or reliant on others, because individually and by our own efforts we cannot overcome our limitations”.

With “joy and admiration”, the Pontiff then recalls the witness of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, calling her “a model of charity who made visible God’s love for the poor and sick”. And in this regard the activity of the many volunteers who work in the social-health sector stands out as they commit themselves above all to protecting the rights of the sick, to raising awareness and prevention, to offering home care and spiritual support. “Volunteer work passes on values, behaviours and ways of living born of a deep desire to be generous. It is also a means of making health care more humane”.

Finally, the Pope encouraged Catholic healthcare institutions, with the appeal to “not fall into the trap of simply running a business; they must be concerned with personal care more than profit”. Because, he reiterates, “the joy of generous giving is a barometer of the health of a Christian”.

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March 26, 2019

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