VATICAN CITY, NOV. 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI appealed for a careful balance between "insisting and desisting" in therapies administered to seriously ill children, but above all, he said, these little patients need special amounts of love.
The Pope affirmed this Saturday when he received participants in the international conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. The Thursday through Saturday event focused on "Pastoral Care in the Treatment of Sick Children."
"At times medical research is faced with difficult choices when it is a question of, for example, achieving a correct balance between insisting and desisting in therapy to ensure treatments that are appropriate to the real needs of the little patients, without giving into the temptation of carrying out experiments with them," the Holy Father said. "It is not superfluous to recall that the reason for every medical intervention must be the consequent true good of the child, considering his dignity as a human individual with full rights."
The Pontiff said a child patient "must always be cared for with love to help him cope with suffering and sickness, including before birth, in the measure appropriate to his situation."
And, he added, special concern must be given to the child's family, ensuring that there is constant communication with them, given "the emotional impact, due to the illness and the treatments to which the child is subjected, which are often particularly invasive."
"If health agents, doctors and nurses, feel the weight of the little patients' sufferings, it is impossible to imagine how great is the suffering felt by the parents," affirmed the Bishop of Rome.
Hence, "health and human aspects must never be separated," he stressed.
"Every health and care institution, especially if it is animated by a genuine Christian spirit, has the duty to offer [children] the maximum of its competence and humanity," the Pope noted. "The sick person, especially a child, particularly understands the language of tenderness and love, expressed through patient and generous service, full of care, fostered in believers by the desire to manifest the same predilection that Jesus felt for little ones."