October 22, 2021


Pope reminds pharmacists—and us—we must value life

We believe it was providential that Pope Francis recently had a strong message concerning life for pharmacists. 

And it is a message we all need to take to heart—not only during Respect Life Month, but each day. 

During an audience at the Vatican on Oct. 14 with about 150 health care professionals attending a national congress sponsored by an Italian association of pharmacists working in hospitals or for the government health service, the pope told them they have a right to conscientious objection, just as they have a right to denounce unjust harm inflicted on innocent and defenseless life. 

“It is a very delicate subject, which at the same time requires great competence and great righteousness. In particular, I had the opportunity to return to abortion recently,” he said. “You know that I am very clear on this: it is a murder, and it is not permissible to become accomplices. Having said that, our duty is closeness, our positive duty: to stay close to situations, especially women, so that we do not come to think of the abortion solution, because in reality it is not the solution.”

The Holy Father’s words were similar to his answer to a question during his in-flight press conference returning from Bratislava, Slovakia, on Sept. 15.

“Abortion is more than an issue. Abortion is murder. Abortion, without hinting: whoever performs an abortion kills. … It’s a human life, period. This human life must be respected. This principle is so clear,” he told reporters on the plane.

The wounds left by abortion, Pope Francis told the medical professionals on Oct. 14, affect people for years. 

“Then life, after 10, 20, 30 years, passes you the bill. And you have to stay in a confessional to understand the very hard price of this,” he said, referring to the very high emotional and psychological toll involved. 

The Holy Father earlier in his talk to pharmacists said there seems to be a trend in society in thinking that getting rid of conscientious objection would be a good idea. 

However, he said, conscientious objection is an ethical principle for every health care professional, “and this is never negotiable; it is the ultimate responsibility” of each individual as is “the denunciation of injustices committed that harm innocent and defenseless life.” 

“It’s a very sensitive issue that requires both great competence and great integrity at the same time,” he added. 

With many in today’s society embracing a throwaway culture, the pope told the pharmacists they must not buy into that mentality and be vigilant as they minister to others, including the elderly. 

“God our Father has given the task of guarding the Earth not to money, but to us: to men and women. We have this task! Instead, men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘throwaway culture,’ ” he said. “Even in the elderly: give half the medicines and thus life is shortened. … It is a waste, yes. This observation, originally referred to the environment, is even more valid for the health of the human being.” 

Pope Francis’ words speak a truth we face in trying to live out the Gospel values we are taught as followers of Christ, namely, that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and that we must value and protect all human life from conception to natural death. 

If we are truly to be Christ’s disciples, we cannot let those in this world who are eager to silence us win this battle. 

May we each have the courage to let Christ’s light shine through us in today’s turbulent world, especially in areas that are enveloped in darkness.

—Mike Krokos

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