Growing acceptance of euthanasia does not indicate increased compassion, but highlights the rise of a selfish “throwaway culture” that casts aside the sick, the dying and those who do not satisfy the perceived requirements of a healthy life, Pope Francis has said.
In a culture that is increasingly “technological and individualistic,” some tend to “hide behind alleged compassion to justify killing a patient,” the Pope told health professionals from Spain and Latin America on June 9.
“True compassion does not marginalise, humiliate or exclude, much less celebrate a patient passing away,” the Pope said. “You know well that would mean the triumph of selfishness, of that ‘throwaway culture’ that rejects and despises people who do not meet certain standards of health, beauty or usefulness.”
Thanking doctors who care for “those who suffer in body and spirit,” Pope Francis insisted physicians’ identity as doctors does not depend solely on their knowledge or competence, but mainly on their compassion and mercy toward the sick.
“Compassion does not mean pity, it means ‘suffering with,'” the Pope said. When physicians share in the suffering of their patients, he added, the “sacred value of the life of the patient does not disappear or become obscured.”
Pope Francis reminded the medical professionals of the biblical tradition of health care, citing the example of the good Samaritan “who does not pass by the injured person at the roadside, but rather moved by compassion, cures and attends to him.”
“The Christian medical tradition has always been inspired by the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Pope said. It is about identifying with the love of the son of God, who ‘went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.'”
However, he said, care for the sick requires patience, and doctors must not give in to “the functionalist temptation” of applying quick solutions that are motivated by “false compassion” or cost-efficiency.
“The dignity of human life is at stake; the dignity of the medical vocation is at stake,” the Pope said. “Nothing must prevent you from ‘putting more heart into your hands.'”