23 May 2019
"Yes to life!" Conference, an important event for the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life
400 people from 70 different countries participated in the first day of the Conference
This morning the work of the Conference “Yes to life! Taking care of the precious gift of life in its frailness” began. This was an important event for the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life which, for the very first time in its history, is expressing itself publicly through such an important pastoral action to promote life.
We really wanted to emphasize this, said the Dicastery’s Prefect, Kevin Farrell, on introducing the Conference programme. The aim of the meeting is to “enable families, professional health care operators and pastoral caregivers to cooperate in a true and proper ecclesial ‘mission’ to safeguard nascent human life in fragile conditions”, creating that “therapeutic alliance” representing one of the most beautiful aspects of the Church, “like the Good Samaritan involved in the care and service of the weak”.
“The habit of presenting prenatal diagnosis as an instrument of prevention for pathologies considered incurable makes it an instrument of eugenic selection” affirmed Gabriella Gambino, Undersecretary of the Dicastery who, in her talk “Re-humanizing diagnosis: from a selective culture to the culture of life” said that “as the Church , our calling is to aid culture to make a leap over to the side of life. The family is the place of love par excellence, that place where the limit and the illness can find their way into the dynamics of love. But we must help families to live in that love, even when suffering appears on the scene and makes them come face to face with the solitude and with that pain which they must be able to endure right until the end, to take it into their hands, observe it and give it a meaning”.
Prof. Giuseppe Noia, Director of the Perinatal Hospice of the Agostino Gemelli University Hospital in Rome and Chairman of the Non-Profit Organization, “Il Cuore in una Goccia”, joint organizer of the Conference together with the Dicastery, pinpointed the heart of the Conference’s message : the hope that prenatal science can give to many families by developing “the culture of foetal therapy and that of the Perinatal Hospice considered not only as a place to provide treatment but, above all as a clinical and relational model in which scientifically rigorous methods can act side by side with agreed health care and compassion”. Treatment may not always coincide with recovery but it enables us to “take care” of the entire family nucleus that is suffering.
Anna Luisa La Teano, co-founder of the Foundation, explained that the testimonial family network of “Il Cuore in una Goccia is not only grounded on sharing experiences but above all on the concept, in a broad sense, of welcome, support and construction of lasting interpersonal bonds among family members who have learned or are learning devastating news. A fundamental role is played by the “witness” families like those of Simona and Paolo and of Anna Maria who recounted how, after the desperation following a devastating diagnosis and having been advised to have an abortion, thanks to innovative treatment their children were born and growing in good health.
Even when treatment and therapies are not successful in preventing the course of the illness, they can also be experienced humanely. The network of families consisting in presence and accompaniment, provides support and help and gives meaning to something that, without faith, would otherwise be incomprehensible, as witnessed this afternoon by Luigi and Marina who welcomed the life of their son, Giorgio, who lived for only 21 months.
A testimonial from Rwanda has recounted the unexpected result of a pregnancy. Listening to the opinion of the doctors, the only acceptable solution for everyone would have been an abortion, but after a few months of pregnancy, the child no longer had any problems and was born in perfect mental and physical health.
In the afternoon, talks were given by Prof. Antonio Lanzone on “How to give hope in cases of serious foetal pathologies”, and Doctor Ana Martin Ancel on “Palliative perinatal care as love of life”. In addition to giving couples the possibility of continuing pregnancies that would once have been unthinkable, palliative perinatal care can help couples to face a path that can be both remembered with peace and deeply meaningful.
A round table on the “network of salvation” to be set up, with the participation of Bishop Claudio Giuliodori, Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Catholic Sacred Heart University , Professor Alessandro Frigiola and Doctor Vincenzo Papa, ended the day’s work.