ROME — Pope Francis urged healthcare workers to defend the inviolable right to life from conception to natural death, urging them this weekend to resist euthanasia, abortion, and other crimes against life.
“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,” the pope told healthcare workers in his annual message for the World Day of the Sick.
As part of their vocation to life, doctors, nurses, and medical personnel are called to bear witness to the value of human life, even resorting to conscientious objection when pressured to act in any way contrary to life, the pontiff suggested.
“Let us remember that life is sacred and belongs to God; hence it is inviolable and no one can claim the right to dispose of it freely,” Francis said. “Life 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.”
“In some cases, conscientious objection becomes a necessary decision if you are to be consistent with your ‘yes’ to life and to the human person,” he said. “Your professionalism, sustained by Christian charity, will be the best service you can offer for the safeguarding of the truest human right, the right to life.”
Healthcare workers play a “key role” in the effort to offer care and renewal to their sick brothers and sisters. “Thanks to their expertise, they can make patients feel the presence of Christ who consoles and cares for the sick, and heals every hurt,” the pope said.
“When confronted with the limitations and even failures of medical science before increasingly problematic clinical cases and bleak diagnoses, you are called to be open to the transcendent dimension of your profession that reveals its ultimate meaning,” he said.
“What is needed is a personalized approach to the sick, not just of curing but also of caring, in view of an integral human healing,” the pope said. “In experiencing illness, individuals not only feel threatened in their physical integrity, but also in the relational, intellectual, affective and spiritual dimensions of their lives.”