Over the weekend, Pope Francis spoke to members of the Italian Catholic Doctors Association for the group’s 70th anniversary. Pope Francis, a consistent and avid defender of life, showcased his great use of words with many thought provoking statements. Catholic News Agency has included several such statements.
The Holy Father made points about abortion and euthanasia from a religious standpoint for the Catholic group, proclaiming that it is “playing with life” and in a sinful manner, when it comes to abortion and euthanasia. Such is a good point to remind people of all faiths that we are not God, and it is not our job to be “playing with life” as Francis words it.
Francis also mentioned that we “are living in a time of experimentation with life. But a bad experiment…” He also referenced arguments that modern thought has supposedly evolved on such life issues, in that “in ancient thought and in modern thought, the word ‘kill’ means the same!” It is helpful to remember such words when we reflect on our country’s history, of how in 1973 two companion U.S. Supreme Court cases legalized abortion in all 50 states, with abortions even being performed up until birth for the mother’s “health.” The legalization of abortion has led to the “bad experiment” of over 56 million deaths of unborn Americans. And just as Francis has mentioned before, there is nothing modern or progressive when it comes to the taking of life of the innocent.
Also discussed was thought provoking statements on scientific advances and how life is regarded. Such thoughts continue to remind us not to engage in this “bad experiment,” just because the scientific advances to do so may exist. This is especially when we must uphold doctors to the standard to do no harm. From CNS:
With today’s rapid scientific and technological advancements the possibility of physical healing has drastically increased, the Pope observed. However, the ability to truly care for the person has almost gone in the opposite direction.
Some aspects of medical science “seem to diminish the ability to ‘take care’ of the person, especially when they are suffering, fragile and defenseless,” he said, explaining that advancements in science and medicine can only enhance human life if they maintain their ethical roots.
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“Attention to human life, particularly to those in the greatest difficulty, that is, the sick, the elderly, children, deeply affects the mission of the Church,” the Bishop of Rome continued, saying that often times modern society tends to attach one’s quality of life to economic possibilities.
And while some may feel that support for abortion is a pro-woman, compassionate position, Francis reminds us that “[t]he belief that abortion is helpful for women, that euthanasia is “an act of dignity,” or that it’s “a scientific breakthrough to ‘produce’ a child (who is) considered a right instead of accepted as a gift” are all part of conventional wisdom that offers a false sense of compassion, he said.”
While those without a faith may dismiss Francis’ comments as the words of a religious leader, the pontiff also made noteworthy points in encouraging the doctors in how to interact with those of other faiths:
After explaining to the inquirer that the Church is not against abortion because it is simply a religious or philosophical issue, he said it’s also because abortion “is a scientific problem, because there is a human life and it’s not lawful to take a human life to solve a problem.”
Pope Francis told the group that as Catholic doctors, it is their mission to affirm the sacredness and inviolability of human life, which “must be loved, defended and cared for,” through word and example, each in their own personal style.
He encouraged them to collaborate with others, including those with different religions, in seeking to promote the dignity of the human being as a basic criterion of their work, and to follow the Gospel’s instruction to love at all times, especially when there is a special need.
“Your mission as doctors puts you in daily contact with so many forms of suffering,” he said, and he encouraged them to imitate the Good Samaritan in caring for the elderly, the sick and the disabled.
By remaining faithful to the Gospel of Life and respecting life as a gift, difficult decisions will come up that at times require courageous choices that go against the popular current, the pontiff noted, saying that this faithfulness can also lead “to conscientious objection.”
The words from Pope Francis are also a helpful reminder that the Church will never compromise when it comes to these important life issues. And no one should expect such a compromise at that. Nevertheless, it is welcoming to hear Francis remind us of such points.