The Hospital: A Place of Evangelization

International Conference of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers to Begin This Week

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By Luca Marcolivio

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The theme of the 27th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, which will take place from November 15-17 in the Synod’s new Hall in the Vatican, is “The Hospital, Place of Evangelization: A Human and Spiritual Mission.”

During a press conference yesterday, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, spoke on the details of the event while recalling that two of the “fundamental and always timely activities” of Jesus Christ’s mandate are, in fact, “the proclamation of the word and the care of the sick.”

In keeping with the spirit of the Year of Faith and of the recent Synod of Bishops, hospitals are seen “in their quality of privileged places of evangelization,” explained Archbishop Zimowski.

The reality of the hospital, continued the prelate, presents considerable differences from country to country. In industrial countries, for example, "in addition to the grave economic and financial crisis which has seized numerous nations, leading to an even drastic reconsideration of the health services, serious challenges must be addressed, beginning with the safeguarding of the identity of hospitals and other Catholic health premises and the maintenance of the specific subsidiary character of their role."

Remaining in the foreground, he continued, always are “fundamental” questions such as:

 -     Absolute respect of life from conception to its natural end.

-      The humanization of care, that is, of the full respect due to the sick person, of his identity and of his lived experience

-      Palliative care.

 In economically disadvantaged countries, the serious difficulty of access to basic care continues, in addition to the very high risk of death "due to the lack of medicines costing just a dollar or two, as in the case of anti-malaria therapies." Finally, what is also lacking is access to "basic diagnostic instruments and the possibility of making them function," as well as "a desirable specialized formation of the health personnel," Archbishop Zimowski added.

The Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, Monsignor Jean-Marie Mupendawatu also spoke at the press conference, stressing that the "culture of health" implies "an ethical vision of man and, hence, of the culture of life," without which "there cannot be true service of man, of his person and of his dignity."

The subject of respect of human life from conception to natural death, for example, goes against "even aberrant solutions when the imperative ethical orientation is lacking." Moreover, in every deficiency that is registered in the different health policies of the world there is "a clear ethical and moral implication," added Monsignor Mupendawatu.

Intervening in the press conference also was Giuseppe Profiti, president of the Child Jesus [Bambino Gesu] Pediatric Hospital of Rome, who stressed the “outstanding presence” of the Church among the sick for 2000 years. The hospital must give increasingly a “message that unites,” continued Professor Profiti, adding that the true object of medical practice must not be so much the sickness but the patient.

The opening day of the conference, which begins this Thursday will begin with Mass in St. Peter's Basilica presided by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State.