23 November 2018

True Compassion is the Soul of Medicine

Undersecretary Gambino’s message to the International Seminar on Rare Diseases

“Medicine cannot be reduced to a mere technological exercise of knowledge and scientific and professional skills, or to protocols and guidelines agreed on among interested parties. Instead, it requires us to deal with all the dimensions of treatments offered to and received by patients with a rare disease in a moral perspective,  namely aimed at affirming and pursuing the person’s wellbeing by respecting and encouraging their decisional independence grounded on informed, certain and just knowledge”.

This is what Undersecretary, Gabriella Gambino wrote in her message addressed to the participants at the Study Day on “Infancy and Rare Diseases” organised by the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations which took place a few days go in Barcelona. 

“The distance, difficult to bridge, between the diagnostic capacity related to rare diseases, which is increasing rapidly, and therapeutic resources struggling hard to surface in research must not lead – she continued – to the temptation to evaluate the life of the foetus and that of the child, who are suffering from them, with lesser dignity and human worth.  This sustains the ‘throw-away culture’, also expressed in the form of eugenic abortion and neonatal or adult euthanasia: two unacceptable forms of rejecting the weakest human life, nourished by ‘false mercy’ (Saint John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 66) or ‘false compassion’ (Francis, Address to the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors on 15th November 2014)”.

“True compassion” – she concluded – that is the soul of medicine, is ‘suffering-with’, Pope Francis reminded us again in 2016,  not to marginalise, humiliate, or exclude but to take responsibility for, in the awareness that “the sacred value of the life of the patient does not disappear or become obscured, but instead shines with greater splendour precisely because in its suffering and its helplessness”. (Address to the Managers of the Medical Associations of Spain and Latin America on 9th June 2016).