VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church is not a fancy medical clinic for the rich, but a “field hospital” that — often literally — provides the only medical care some people will ever receive, Pope Francis said.
“Health is not a consumer good but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege,” the pope said May 7 during a meeting with members, volunteers and supporters of Doctors with Africa, a medical mission begun by the Diocese of Padua, Italy, 65 years ago.
In many parts of the world, especially in Africa, the pope said, basic health care “is denied — denied!” — to too many people. “It is not a right for all, but rather still a privilege for a few, for those who can afford it.”
“Access to health services, to treatment and to pharmaceuticals is still a mirage,” Pope Francis told the group, which includes dozens of young doctors who volunteer their services in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Angola, South Sudan and Sierra Leone.
Offering medical care in sub-Saharan Africa and training Africans to take over the clinics when they are able is an important expression of “a church that is not a super-clinic for VIPs, but a field hospital,” the pope said.
Pope Francis also paid tribute to the late Father Luigi Mazzucato, who directed Doctors with Africa from 1955 to 2008. He died in November at the age of 88.
In his last will and testament, the pope said, Father Mazzucato had written: “Born poor, I always sought to live with the minimum necessary. I have nothing of my own and nothing to leave. The few clothes I possess, I would like to be given to the poor.”
Adding to his customary request that people pray for him, Pope Francis told the group, “pray for me that the Lord will make me poorer each day.”
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103