'Do not be party to attacks on human life or procreation', Holy Father tells pharmacists.

"The moral comfort you can offer those who are suffering is great, if it is the result of human maturity and a wealth of values deriving from the unchanging principles of natural and Gospel ethics", the Holy Father said to the members of the Catholic Union of Italian Pharmacists at an audience on Saturday, January 29th, 1994. The Pope also reminded them that their work is not the end of a production line but rather a place where physical and psychological suffering can be alleviated. Here is a translation of the Holy Father's address that was given in Italian.

Dear Pharmacists,

I am pleased to offer you a cordial welcome today, at the end of the National Congress organized by the Catholic Union of Italian Pharmacists.

I am grateful to your President, Dr. Luno Montirord, for the kind words with which he addressed me, also on your behalf; and I thank the chaplain, Fr. Bella Tripaid of the Hospitalers, who has worked so hard for the successful outcome of our meeting. I also respectfully greet the representatives of the Federation of the Order, and all who have joined you on your visit to the Successor of Peter.

With this gesture, your Association desires to reaffirm its fidelity to the Church's Magisterium after strengthening its bonds of collaboration with the Italian Episcopal Conference through the new, recently approved Statues. The tireless work of Cardinal Morenso Angelini, to whom I express my gratitude, has helped your association to find fresh motivation by linking the past experiences to the present in fidelity to the Christian values that inspire its work.

The Church is well aware that God, the Author of Life, has also given man intelligence, so that he may have the twofold ability to protect human beings against disease and to administer the right treatment when they are ill. From ancient times, the noble pharmaceutical art, moved by an awareness of the sacredness of human life, has greatly contributed to its protection.

Service to the integrity and well-being of the individual is the ideal that must constantly guide the Catholic pharmacist. As he exercises his profession, he should be inspired by the example of "Jesus of Nazareth, who went about doing good and healing" (Acts 10:38) all those who approached him. Thus the pharmacist should be concerned with "relieving suffering, improving treatment and curing men's ailments", conscious that where there is life, there is the Spirit of God who is our Creator and Consolar (Paul VI, Discourse to the International Pharmaceutical Federation, 7 September 1974, Inignamenti, XII, pp., 798-801; L'Osservatore Romano English edition; 19 September 1974, p. 4).

The service you offer to the sacredness of life is sometimes expressed in a complex and difficult sociocultural context. I am thinking, for example of certain forms of disease that are spreading with frightening rapidity and are sometimes the result of an erroneous concept of human freedom and dignity, or worse, of the search for forms of escape that destroy man's ability to face life responsibly.

Distribution of medicine must be guided by moral code.

In the face of these situations, the Church's teaching has always been consistent in defending the values that ennoble man and meaning of suffering. Still today, echoing the teaching of the Pontiffs Pius XII and Paul VI, she repeats that "ONE CANNOT ACCEPT BEING A PARTY TO ATTACKS ON LIFE OR THE INTEGRITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL, ON PROCREATION OR THE MORAL AND MENTAL HEALTH OF HUMANITY" (Pius XII, Address to Catholic Pharmacists, 2 September 1950, Discourses and Radio Messages, pp. 177-178). And “ONE CANNOT IN ALL CONSCIENCE LOOK FOR A SOURCE OF PROFIT IN THE SALE OF PRODUCTS THAT DEGRADE MEN," and his dignity (Paul VI, Discourse to the International Pharmaceutical Federation, 7 September, 1974, Insegnamenti, XII, pp. 798-801; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 19 September 1974, p.4). I have already had occasion to stress that "the distribution of medication --- as well as its production and use --- must be governed by a RIGOROUS MORAL CODE ATTENTIVELY OBSERVED! Respect for this code of behavior presupposes FIDELITY TO CERTAIN INTANGIBLE PRINCIPLES which the mission of the baptized and the duty of Christian witness make particularly timely" (Address to the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists, 3 November 1990, in Insegnamenti, XIII/2, p. 99); L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 12 November 1990, p.4).

Your work however is not limited to dispensing products destined for psychological and physical well-being. As Catholics working in the health-care sector, you are called to play an important human, social and ethical role. Through contact with all those who rely on your competence, you have an opportunity to become advisers and even evangelizers, precisely because your profession implies trust in your skill and in your humanity. The moral and psychological comfort which you can offer those who are suffering is great, IF IT IS THE RESULT OF HUMAN MATURITY AND A WEALTH OF VALUES DERIVING FROM THE UNCHANGING PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL AND GOSPEL ETHICS. Thus you have an opportunity to contribute a dimension of authentic Christian solidarity to your profession, keeping in mind the image of the Good Samaritan who does not only offer immediate aid, but accepts the prospect of taking further care of his brother (cf. Lk. 10:29-37)

Dear pharmacists, the profession you exercise requires deep human, ethical and spiritual qualities. It demands wisdom and prudence together with a keen sense of honesty and integrity. YOUR WORK IS NOT THE FINAL STAGE OF PRODUCTION LINE where the commercial competition of industrial plants ends. Rather it should be a place where suffering finds a physical remedy and understanding for wounds of the soul.

     May the Virgin Mary, invoked with the title of "Salus Infirmorum" help you to carry out your mission diligently and patiently as a service to life; may the example of the holy martyrs St. Cosmas and St. Damian, whom you venerate as your patrons, help you to be steadfast in FIDELITY TO GOSPEL PRINCIPLES; may my blessing, which I gladly extend to your co-workers and all you loved ones, go with you.




November 3, 1990

In his speech the Holy Father made these points:

-The pharmacist-client relationship goes beyond a commercial transaction; the sick come awaiting “some counsel, a reason for hope or a path to follow”.

-The Catholic pharmacist must actively oppose “forms of aggression against human life and human dignity” which are “becoming more numerous, notably through recourse to medication”.

-Profit must always be subordinated to respect for the moral law, and Catholic pharmacists must always witness that they follow the moral code, without submitting to “various opinions”, the “harsh laws of the marketplace or permissive legislation”.

-Faced with threats to life the Church is making her voice and teaching heard more widely and more often.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

1. It is with pleasure that I welcome you who are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists. I thank your President, Dr. Edwin Scheer, for the warm greeting which he just directed to me, and for the description he gave of the strong resolve of your federation to follow courageously in the steps of your founders. Four decades of increasing activity confirm the importance and worth of your institution.

2. As you know, the Church considers care given to the sick to be a privileged aspect of her mission. The Church is closely connected with spiritual care, but that should not lead her to ignore physical health. Is it not true that we often borrow from your language when we speak of “medicinal grace”, or when we refer to virtues and spiritual values as “remedies”?

The extraordinary development of science and of the practice of medicine, both in terms of society’s care of the sick and preventive medicine, includes a considerable parallel development in the field of pharmacology. Pharmacists, therefore, who have always been an intermediary between the doctor and the sick person, have seen their field of activity broaden . Awareness of your responsibilities leads you to reflect increasingly on the human, cultural, ethical and spiritual dimensions of your mission. In fact, the relationship between the pharmacist and the one seeking medication goes far beyond its commercial aspects, because it requires an acute perception of the personal problems of the person involved as well as the basic ethical aspects of the services rendered to the life and dignity of the human person.

3. As I have often had the occasion to point out, pharmacists can be sought out for non-therapeutic ends which are liable to go against the natural law, to the detriment of the person’s dignity. Therefore it is clear that the distribution of medication - as well as its production and use - must be governed by a rigorous moral code attentively observed. Respect for this code of behavior presupposes fidelity to certain intangible principles which the mission of the Baptized and the duty of Christian witness make particularly timely.

All this requires the pharmacist’s constantly renewed reflection. Forms of aggression against human life and human dignity are becoming more numerous, notably through recourse to medication, even though it should never be used against life, directly or surreptitiously. That is why the Catholic pharmacist has the duty - in accord moreover with the changeless princi[;es of natural ethics inscribed in the human conscience - to be an attentive counselor of those who are purchasing remedies, not to mention the moral help which he or she can give to those who come to buy a product, bur who also await some counsel, a reason for hope, or a path to follow.

4. In distributing medication, the pharmacist cannot ignore the demands of his or her conscience in preference to the harsh laws of the marketplace or permissive legislation. Profit, which is both legitimate and necessary, must always be subordinated to respect for the moral law and in accord with the Church’s Magisterium. In society one should be able to recognize Catholic pharmacists as both competent and faithful witnesses, without leading to a situation where institutions and associations which form under that title lose their reason for coming into existence.

For the Catholic pharmacist, Church teachings about respect for life and the dignity of the human person from conception to the last moments of life are of an ethical and moral nature. He or she cannot submit to various opinions or apply changing options at will. Aware of the novelty and complexity of the problems posed by scientific and technological progress, the Church makes her voice heard more often and gives clear guidelines to healthcare personnel, to which group the pharmacist belongs. Adhering to this teaching is surely a difficult duty to apply concretely in your daily work, bur for a Catholic pharmacist it is a matter of fundamental guidelines which he or she cannot ignore.

5. In working at your profession, you are called to be near to the consumers of medication: for you they are the neighbors whom, in the image of the Good Samaritan, you view not only in regard to their immediate needs, but as brothers and sisters who ask for more than simply material help.

the Gospel speaks of a power to heal which emanates from the person of Christ Himself; the sick and the infirm approach the pharmacist as one who knows how to heal soul and body. It is in this spirit that you are called to act, by virtue of your profession and your Christian faith.

That was what inspired your founders whom we recall today with admiration and recognition. Your association helps you to come to a clear awareness of your specific duties. The Church needs your witness which, among other ways, can be translated into your activities to urge public authorities to adopt laws which recognize the sacred and intangible character of life and of all that can contribute to improving physical, psychological and spiritual conditions.

With all my heart I invoke upon your federation upon you yourselves and your famil8es, as well as upon your daily work the support of God’s blessing May the Most Holy Virgin, Mother of goodness and wisdom, guide you along the path of faith and in the service you render to life!

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR WORLD DAY OF SICK - 8/2000Research Must Be at Service of HumanityCASTEL GANDOLFO, AUGUST 27 (ZENIT.org).- The innumerable possibilities of modern medicine must be placed at the effective service of mankind and be applied in total respect for human dignity, John Paul II says to the world of scientific research in his message for next year's World Day of the Sick.A few days after the Pontifical Academy for Life's categorical condemnation of the therapeutic use of stem cells cloned from human embryos, the Pope's voice has been raised to remind us that humanity andhuman dignity are above all economic and therapeutic interests that scientific research can pursue. At present, there is great interest in what the Holy Father will say next Tuesday, when he addresses theInternational Transplants Congress, currently taking place in Rome. World Day of the Sick, will be held on February 11, 2001, in Sydney, Australia, with the theme The New Evangelization and the Dignity of the Suffering. In the past, World Days of the Sick have been held in places of faith like Lourdes, Fatima, Czestochowa, Guadalupe, Yamoussoukro, and Rome, during the current Holy Year. Respect for Man and Medicine In his message to the world's sick, the Holy Father recalls that the Church has always tried to support therapeutic progress, always seeking greater quality care for the sick ; at the same time, it has intervened in all areas so that the rights of the person are respected, andpeople's genuine well-being is pursued. Also today, faithful to Gospel principles, the Magisterium does not cease to propose the moral criteria that will lead the men and women of medicine to further study of aspects of research that, to date, have not been sufficiently clarified, without violating the exigencies derived from authentic humanism, the Holy Father wrote. The Pope confirms that we cannot help but look favorably upon scientific research and, at the same time, writes: it is necessary that clinical experimentation take place in absolute respect for the person,and in clear awareness of the risks and, consequently, of the limits it entails.Confessions from One Who Experiences IllnessThe Pope's message to the sick expresses feelings of great closeness. Having shared, over these years and on various occasions, the experience of sickness, I have increasingly understood its value for my Petrine ministry and the life of the Church. Because of this, Every day I go on a spiritual pilgrimage to hospitals and nursing homes, where there are people of all ages and social conditions, the Holy Father explains. In fact, they are like shrines,in which persons participate in the Paschal mystery of Christ, and where it is important that a qualified presence of believers never be lacking.The Pope called on the world's medical professionals and health agents to be fraternally close to their patients. In order to do this, it is important to remember that all medication, therapy, or surgicaloperation be subject to specific limitations imposed by the ethical convictions of believers, as well as the inviolable exigency of authentic humanism.John Paul II calls on governments and institutions to do everything possible so that health resources are justly distributed in the world in the near future.Wonderful Pages of Evangelical Charity Following his counsels and requests, the Pope expresses his gratitude for the service of volunteers, and NGOs but, above all, for the dedication of men and women religious and laity, who are committed to a frontier health service in the most forgotten areas of the globe, in the midst of epidemics and armed conflicts. They are the Good Samaritans of the third millennium who are writing wonderful pages of evangelical charity, the Pope concludes.ZE00082706--------------------------------------------------------

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