Pope Francis: healthcare should be 'at the service of life'

Pope Francis: healthcare should be 'at the service of life'

Pope Francis meets with participants in the general chapter of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, Feb. 1, 2019. Credit: Vatican Media.
Pope Francis meets with participants in the general chapter of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, Feb. 1, 2019. Credit: Vatican Media.

.- Pope Francis said Friday that health centers should always be places of life, where the sick and suffering are cared for both physically and spiritually.

“Your buildings must be ‘inns’ – like that of the parable of the Samaritan – at the service of life, spaces where especially the sick and the poor feel welcomed,” the pope said Feb. 1 to a group of the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God.

The Good Samaritan “took care of the wounded. The expression ‘taking care’ has a human and spiritual dimension. Jesus wants us to touch human misery, that we touch his flesh in the flesh of those who suffer in body or spirit.”

“To touch, let us touch. It would do us so much good!” he continued. “And then your life will become an icon of God’s mercy of mercy, finally becoming a compassionate and merciful Christ, who passed into the world doing good to all and healing all sorts of diseases and infirmities.”

The charism of the Brothers of St. John of God, also called “Fatebenefratelli,” is caring for the sick, and the religious order has health and social service activities in 52 countries on five continents. The order consists of 1,099 brothers from 51 countries.

The pope told the group, in Rome for their general chapter, that no matter the number or age of an order’s members, “the Spirit always creates a renewed fruitfulness … so that religious and laity have a missionary heart that rejoices in joy, in experiencing the salvation of Christ.”

He also talked about the importance of love of God being at the center of all service: “In a consecrated person, and in every baptized person, there can be no genuine compassion for others if there is no passion of love for Jesus,” he said.

“Bring the compassion and mercy of Jesus to the sick and the most in need,” he encouraged. “Get out of yourself, your limits, your problems and difficulties, to join others in a caravan of solidarity.”

Noting that the brothers should not neglect their own formation, Francis also urged them to train the laity in their charism of care for the poor and sick, and “in the spirituality and mission of Christian hospitality.”

“May the cause of the human as a cause of God resound in you,” he said. “And so, feeling a family, you can always be at the service of the wounded and sick world.”