VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis is telling doctors there are "some who hide behind alleged compassion to justify killing a patient."
In an address Thursday to the Medical Association of Spain and Latin America gathered in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, the Holy Father said that a physician is more identified by his "merciful attitude towards those who suffer" rather than on his mere technical skills. The Pope remarked that compassion "is not pity, it is suffering-with," calling it "the very soul of medicine."
He also thought it fitting during the "Jubilee of Mercy" to express his gratitude to health professionals who are the "true personification" of mercy.
Condemning euthanasia, the Holy Father remarked, "True compassion does not marginalize, humiliate or exclude and doesn't celebrate the passing away of a patient. No, this is the triumph of selfishness of the 'culture of disposability' that rejects people who do not meet certain standards of health, beauty or utility."
The Pope borrowed a title for Christ employed by the Fathers of the Church: "Christus Medicus" ("Christ the Doctor"). He likened him to the Good Samaritan, mentioned in Luke 10, "who does not pass before the badly injured person by the wayside but, moved by compassion, he heals and serves." He noted that "Christian medical tradition" has always been "inspired" by this parable.
He further noted the example of Christ, who spent much time healing others. Paraphrasing Christ in Matthew 25, he recalled, "Every time you did it to one of these, my brethren, you did it to me."
"[T]he sacred value of the life of the patient does not disappear, neither is it ever darkened, but it shines with more splendor precisely in the person's suffering and helplessness," he continued.
"Fragility, pain and disease are a tough test for everyone, including medical staff," said the Holy Father. But he exhorted all not to surrender to "the temptation to apply quick, merely functional and drastic solutions driven by false compassion" driven by "efficiency and cost savings."
To give in to the practice of so-called "mercy killing," Pope Francis warned, would jeopardize not only "the dignity of human life" but also the "dignity of the medical vocation."