Some can’t focus on vaccine availability because they first need potable water, says Bishop of Rome.
Pope Francis denounced both abortion and “hidden” euthanasia in his address to the members of the Pontifical Academy for Life on September 27, but also spoke of the lessons to learn from the pandemic.
The Pontiff received the participants of the annual Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, whose program this year focuses on the question of “public health on the horizon of globalization.”
The 266th Pope underlined how the pandemic has exposed the inequalities in the world. While once again calling for a commitment to the equitable and universal distribution of vaccines, he regretted that the “preventable deaths” that occur each year cause less concern and mobilize fewer resources. For example, malaria, tuberculosis and general precariousness of hygiene or sanitary conditions “cause each year in the world millions of preventable deaths,” he emphasized.
We could take responsibility for the grave conditions in which other people live and in which up to now, we have taken little or no interest. Let us learn not to project our priorities onto populations that live on other continents, where other necessities are more urgent; where, for example, there’s not just a lack of vaccines, but also of potable water and daily bread.
One doesn’t know if to laugh or cry – sometimes cry – when we hear governments or community leaders counsel the residents of shantytowns that they wash various times a day with soap and water … But, gosh, you’ve never been in a shantytown. There’s no water there, they don’t have access to soap. [Regarding lockdown measures:] “No, don’t leave your houses!” But there, the house is the whole neighborhood, as they live …
The Pope urged attention for these situations, and the need to take into account the greater reality in order to apply the criteria of justice.
Abortion has become “an ugly habit”
“We are victims of the throwaway culture” which discredits the weakest, said Pope Francis, referring to “children we do not want to receive,” and that as a result, we “kill directly.” The Pope lamented how abortion has “become the ‘normal’ practice today, a very ugly habit,” adding that it is really a “homicide.”
“And on the other hand,” said the Pope, “there are the elderly, who are discarded material, because they aren’t ‘useful.’”
“But they are wisdom, they are the roots of the wisdom of our civilization, and this civilization throws them away,” he lamented.
He denounced “hidden euthanasia,” for example in improperly medicating the elderly because the medicines cost too much.
“With this,” Francis said, “we negate hope: the hope of children who bring us life and move us forward, and the hope that is in the roots that the elderly give us. We throw away both.”
Health care for all
While he recognized that the “inflation of speeches” generated by the pandemic crisis may make one want to “move on to other subjects,” Pope Francis called for “thinking calmly in order to examine in depth what has happened.” He encouraged the academics, for a better understanding of the facts, to favor a multidisciplinary approach.
Finally, the Bishop of Rome praised international initiatives such as the one led by the G20 for global health care. Leaving the text of his speech, he also declared that “there should always be a system of access to free healthcare” and encouraged countries such as “Italy and others” that have such programs to maintain them.
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