Everyone has the right to access decent health care no matter their social and economic background, Pope Francis said on Jan. 3.
In a message, ahead of the 28th World Day of the Sick on Feb. 11, the pope said far too many people living in poverty were being denied adequate health care because societies believe they cannot afford to treat them.
“I urge healthcare institutions and government leaders throughout the world not to neglect social justice out of a preoccupation for financial concerns,” Pope Francis said.
“By joining the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, efforts will be made to cooperate in ensuring that everyone has access to suitable treatments for preserving and restoring their health,” he said in the message.
The message began by quoting Jesus in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
These people include the sick and the poor the pope said.
“Your sickness makes you in a particular way one of those ‘who labor and are burdened,’ and thus attract the eyes and heart of Jesus,” the pope said in the message.
He called on health care workers to make patients feel Christ’s presence and make sure they give those under their care their highest priority.
“In your work, may you always strive to promote the dignity and life of each person, and reject any compromise in the direction of euthanasia, assisted suicide or suppression of life, even in the case of terminal illness,” he said.
“Life is sacred and belongs to God; hence it is inviolable, and no one can claim the right to dispose of it freely,” said the pope.
Life “must be welcomed, protected, respected and served from its beginning to its end,” he added.
As such he called on healthcare workers to offer the best care they can provide.
The pope ended his message by entrusting all those burdened by illness, their families and all healthcare workers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, saying he would pray for them.