ROME — Pope Francis made an appeal for free universal health care Sunday, urging nations to follow the example of those that provide it.
“In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced once again how important good health care is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries,” the pope said during his Angelus address, delivered from the Gemelli Hospital where he is currently recovering from colon surgery.
“Free health care, that assures good service, accessible to everyone,” the pontiff continued. “This precious benefit must not be lost. It needs to be kept!”
In his address, the pope went on to assert that such health care requires the commitment of all, just as all are beneficiaries of it.
“I would like to express my appreciation and my encouragement to the doctors and all the healthcare workers and staff of this and of other hospitals. They work so hard!” he added.
Pray for all those who are sick, the pope urged, “especially for those in the most difficult conditions: may no one be left alone, may everyone receive the anointing of listening, closeness, tenderness and care.”
“All of us, everyone, sooner or later, we all need this ‘anointing’ of closeness and tenderness,” he proposed, “and we can all give it to someone else, with a visit, a phone call, a hand outstretched to someone who needs help.”
Francis also underscored the importance of healthcare work for the mission of the Catholic Church.
“In the Church it also happens at times that some healthcare institution, due to poor management, does not do well economically, and the first thought that comes to mind is to sell it,” he said. “But the vocation, in the Church, is not to have money; it is to offer service, and service is always freely given.”
“Do not forget this: to save free institutions,” he insisted.