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    Pope Francis Urges End-of-Life Care

    1. Pope Francis today

    Two considerations stand for us Christians. The first: we cannot avoid death, and precisely for this reason, after having done everything that is humanly possible to cure the sick, it is immoral to engage in futile treatment (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2278). That phrase of the faithful people of God, of the simple people: “Let him die in peace”, “help him to die in peace”: such wisdom! The second consideration concerns the quality of death itself, the quality of pain, of suffering. Indeed, we must be grateful for all the help that medicine endeavours to give, so that through so-called “palliative care”, every person who is preparing to live the last stretch of their life can do so in the most human way possible. However, we must be careful not to confuse this help with unacceptable drifts towards killing. We must accompany people towards death, but not provoke death or facilitate any form of suicide. I would point out that the right to care and treatment for all must always be prioritised, so that the weakest, particularly the elderly and the sick, are never discarded. Life is a right, not death, which must be welcomed, not administered. And this ethical principle applies to concerns everyone, not just Christians or believers.

    I would like to underline a real social problem. That “planning” – I don’t know if it is the right word – but accelerating the death of the elderly. Very often we see in a certain social class that the elderly, since they do not have means, are given fewer medicines than they need, and this is inhuman; this is not helping them, it is driving them towards death earlier. This is neither human nor Christian. The elderly should be cared for as a treasure of humanity: they are our wisdom. And if they do not speak, or if they do not make sense, they are still the symbol of human wisdom. They are those who went before us and have left us so many good things, so many memories, so much wisdom. Please, do not isolate the elderly, do not accelerate the death of the elderly. To caress an elderly person has the same hope as caressing a child, because the beginning of life and the end are always a mystery, a mystery that should be respected, accompanied, cared for. Loved.


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