Health care is a right, not a privilege, pope says

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church is not a fancy
medical clinic for the rich, but a “field hospital” that — often
literally — provides the only medical care some people will ever receive, Pope
Francis said.

“Health is not a consumer good but a universal right,
so access to health services cannot be a privilege,” the pope said May 7
during a meeting with members, volunteers and supporters of “Doctors with
Africa,” a medical mission begun by the Diocese of Padua, Italy, 65 years

In many parts of the world, especially in Africa, the pope
said, basic health care “is denied — denied!” — to too many people.
“It is not a right for all, but rather still a privilege for a few, for
those who can afford it.”

“Access to health serves, to treatment and to
pharmaceuticals is still a mirage,” Pope Francis told the group, which
includes dozens of young doctors who volunteer their services in Uganda,
Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Angola, South Sudan and Sierra Leone.

Offering medical care in sub-Saharan Africa and training
Africans to take over the clinics when they are able is an important expression
of “a church that is not a super-clinic for VIPs, but a field
hospital,” the pope said.

Pope Francis also paid tribute to the late Father Luigi Mazzucato, who directed
Doctors with Africa from 1955 to 2008. He died in November at the age of 88.

In his last will and testament, the pope said, Father
Mazzucato had written: “Born poor, I always sought to live with the
minimum necessary. I have nothing of my own and nothing to leave. The few
clothes I possess, I would like to be given to the poor.”

Adding to his
customary request that people pray for him, Pope Francis told the group,
“pray for me that the Lord will make me poorer each day.”

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article