Corruption is cancer to health industry, pope tells hospital staffers

IMAGE: CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

CITY (CNS) — Corrupt business practices that seek to profit from the sick and
the dying are a
cancer to hospitals entrusted with the care of the most vulnerable, especially children, Pope
Francis said.

nurses and those who work in the field of health care must be defined by their
ability to help their patients and be on guard against falling down the slippery slope of corruption that begins
with special favors, tips and bribes, the pope told staff and patients of Rome’s ‘Bambino Gesu’ children’s
hospital Dec. 15.

worst cancer in a hospital like this
is corruption,” he said. “In this world where there is so much business involved in health care,
so many people are tricked by the sickness industry, ‘Bambino Gesu’ hospital must learn to say no.
Yes, we all are sinners.
Corrupt, never.”

pope held an audience with thousands of young children, parents, doctors,
nurses and volunteers
from the hospital. Making his way into the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall, the pope greeted
many of the young patients and their families who reached out to him, handing him letters and messages.

At the main stage, he sat in his chair
surrounded by some of the young patients while listening to testimonies and
questions from hospital staffers and a former patient.

his joy for their
visit, he also apologized for the appearance of the hall, which was amid
preparations for a Dec. 17 benefit concert. Comparing it to a “messy
kitchen,” the pope said he was sorry “because this is not the way to
receive people.”

pope answered a question from Valentina Vanzi, a nurse at the hospital, who
after explaining the heartbreak of watching so many children suffer asked,
“Why do children die?”

that there was no clear answer to the suffering of the innocent, Pope Francis
said that Jesus responded to this question not by “preaching or theoretical discourses”
but by offering meaning to suffering through his death on the cross.

do children suffer?’ There isn’t an answer to this; only by looking at the
cross and allowing (Jesus) to give us the answer. You may ask me: ‘But father,
didn’t you study theology?’ Yes. ‘Didn’t you read books about this?’ Yes. ‘So,
what is the answer?’ There is none. Look at the cross,” he said.

he continued, is the “fuel” of Christian life that doctors and nurses
are called to give to young children who are suffering, and being close to them “is the
medicine so the heart does not freeze” and become numb to their pain.

who work in the field of medicine and health care, he added, can be witnesses of
holiness by “sowing life” through small, often hidden, gestures that
flourish and give fruit.

was a French author who loved to say that the ‘middle class’ of holiness is
made up of those who are always hidden but are there present through the holiness
that is done every day through small things. Thank you for what you do,”
the pope told the hospital staffers.

Francis also praised Serena Antonucci, a former patient of the hospital who shared her experience of suffering
from Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 13. Now in remission, the 27-year-old is
studying medicine to help young children who suffer like she once did.

the bible — in the Book of Wisdom — there is a verse that speaks about a
strong woman. We have seen one today: Serena, this strong woman who overcome
pain. To all of you who work at
‘Bambino Gesu,’ women like this — strong men as well — are your greatest
reward. The best reward is to see the results of your work in children and in
people,” the pope said.

Francis said that doctors and nurses like Serena save lives not only through
their expertise but also by bringing joy, happiness and hope to those in need.

happiness of sowing life, of making life grow and to see how these children
grow as strong men and women; this is joy, this is hope and this is your reward,”
the pope said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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