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Saturday, November 18, 2017

A new Bishop for Chicoutimi

This morning at the Vatican, the Holy Father, Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from pastoral governance of the Diocese of Chicoutimi (Quebec, Canada) presented by His Excellency, André Rivest.

The Holy Father has appointed Reverend Father René Guay, a priest of the clergy of the Diocese of Chicoutimi, who has most recently been serving as Chaplain to Prisons in the province of Quebec as the new Bishop of Chicoutimi.


Meet the new Bishop of Chicoutimi

Reverend Father René Guay was born on 4 September 1950 in Saint-Thomas-Didyme (Quebec) in the diocese of Chicoutimi.  From 1963 to 1968 he attended the Minor Seminary in Chicoutimi and continued his secondary studies at the Cégep in that same city.

In 1970, he entered into the Major Seminary of Chicoutimi and obtained a Diploma in Theology.  From 1973 to 1975, he attended the Faculty of Theology at Laval University where he obtained a Licence in Theology.  He was ordained a priest on 13 July 1975 for the Diocese of Chicoutimi.

In 1979, as an associate member to the Societé des Missions Étrangères, he began his work as a missionary in Chile, where he remained until 1992, the year during which he definitively returned to his diocese of ordination.  In Chile, he served as Pastor and as Dean within the Archdiocese of Santiago and then as Pastor in the Diocese of San Bernardo.

Having returned to Canada, he attended an intensive course in Formation for Spiritual Directors offered by the Jesuits at Villa Manrèse in Ste-Foy.  From 1993 until 2004, he served as Spiritual Director at the Major Seminary in Chicoutimi.  From 1999 to 2015, he served as Chaplain at the Chicoutimi Detention Centre and from 2015 until now, he has served as Animator of the Prison Systems in the province of Quebec.

Addressing Global Health Care Inequalities

The Holy Father, Pope Francis has sent a Message to participants taking part in the XXXII International Conference on the theme of Addressing Global Health Inequalities.  The Conference was organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in collaboration with the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions.


Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the International Conference
Addressing Global Health Inequalities

To My venerable Brother
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting
Integral Human Development

I offer a cordial welcome to the participants in the Thirty-second International Conference on the theme Addressing Global Health Inequalities. I express my gratitude to all those who have worked to organize this event, in particular, to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions.

Last year’s Conference took note of encouraging data on the average life expectancy and on the global fight against pathologies, while at the same time pointing out the widening gap between the richer and poorer countries with regard to access to medical products and health-care treatment. Consequently, it was decided to address the specific issue of inequalities and the social, economic, environmental and cultural factors underlying them. The Church cannot remain indifferent to this issue. Conscious of her mission at the service of human beings created in the image of God, she is bound to promote their dignity and fundamental rights.

To this end, the New Charter for Health Care Workers states that the fundamental right to the preservation of health pertains to the value of justice, whereby there are no distinctions between peoples and ethnic groups, taking into account their objective living situations and stages of development, in pursuing the common good, which is at the same time the good of all and of each individual (No. 141). The Church proposed that the right to health care and the right to justice ought to be reconciled by ensuring a fair distribution of healthcare facilities and financial resources, in accordance with the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. As the Charter notes, those responsible for healthcare activities must also allow themselves to be uniquely and forcefully challenged by the awareness that ‘while the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human’ (No. 91; Caritas in Veritate, 75).

I am pleased to learn that the Conference has drafted a project aimed at concretely addressing these challenges, namely, the establishment of an operational platform of sharing and cooperation between Catholic health care institutions in different geographical and social settings. I willingly encourage those engaged in this project to persevere in this endeavour, with God’s help. Healthcare workers and their professional associations in particular are called to this task, since they are committed to raising awareness among institutions, welfare agencies and the healthcare industry as a whole, for the sake of ensuring that every individual actually benefits from the right to health care. Clearly, this depends not only on healthcare services, but also on complex economic, social, cultural and decision-making factors. In effect, the need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills. (Evangelii Gaudium, 202).

I would like to focus on one aspect that is fundamental, especially for those who serve the Lord by caring for the health of their brothers and sisters. While a well-structured organization is essential for providing necessary services and the best possible attention to human needs, healthcare workers should also be attuned to the importance of listening, accompanying and supporting the persons for whom they care.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shows us the practical approach required in caring for our suffering neighbour. First, the Samaritan “sees”. He notices and “is moved with compassion” at the sight of a person left stripped and wounded along the way. This compassion is much more than mere pity or sorrow; it shows a readiness to become personally involved in the other’s situation. Even if we can never equal God’s own compassion, which fills and renews the heart by its presence, nonetheless we can imitate that compassion by drawing near, binding wounds, lifting up and caring for our neighbour (cf Lk 10:33-34).

A healthcare organization that is efficient and capable of addressing inequalities cannot forget that its raison d’être, which is compassion: the compassion of doctors, nurses, support staff, volunteers and all those who are thus able to minimize the pain associated with loneliness and anxiety.

Compassion is also a privileged way to promote justice, since empathizing with the others allows us not only to understand their struggles, difficulties and fears, but also to discover, in the frailness of every human being, his or her unique worth and dignity. Indeed, human dignity is the basis of justice, while the recognition of every person’s inestimable worth is the force that impels us to work, with enthusiasm and self-sacrifice, to overcome all disparities.

Finally, I would like to address the representatives of the several pharmaceutical companies who have been invited to Rome to address the issue of access to antiretroviral therapies by paediatric patients. I would like to offer for your consideration a passage of the New Charter for Healthcare Workers. It states: Although it cannot be denied that the scientific knowledge and research of pharmaceutical companies have their own laws by which they must abide – for example, the protection of intellectual property and a fair profit to support innovation – ways must be found to combine these adequately with the right of access to basic or necessary treatments, or both, especially in underdeveloped countries, and above all in the cases of so-called rare and neglected diseases, which are accompanied by the notion of orphan drugs. Health care strategies aimed at pursuing justice and the common good must be economically and ethically sustainable. Indeed, while they must safeguard the sustainability both of research and of health care systems, at the same time they ought to make available essential drugs in adequate quantities, in usable forms of guaranteed quality, along with correct information, and at costs that are affordable by individuals and communities (No. 92).

I thank all of you for the generous commitment with which you exercise your valued mission.I give you my Apostolic Blessing, and I ask you to continue to remember me in your prayers.

From the Vatican
18 November 2017

Francis
(Translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

Prayers for the Argentinian military

The Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin has sent a Message in the name of the Holy Father to the Military Ordinary of Argentina, His Excellency, Santiago Olivera, concerning the submarine crew that has disappeared in the south Atlantic off the coast of Argentina.


Message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis

To His Excellency, Santiago Olivera
Military Ordinary

Pope Francis assures you of his fervent prayer for the 44 crew members aboard the San Juan Ara which disappeared last Wednesday and asks you to inform their family members as well as the military and civil authorities of your country of his concern in these difficult moments.  He also wishes to encourage the efforts being carried out in an effort to locate the missing vessel.

His Holiness confides them all the maternal intercession of the Most Holy Virgin and, while asking them to pray for him and for his ministry in service to the holy people of God, he pleads with the Lord to infuse spiritual serenity and Christian hope in these circumstances upon you to whom, with all his heart, he imparts his Apostolic benediction.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State
(Original text in Spanish)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Greetings to Myanmar

The Holy Father, Pope Francis has issued a video message just days before he leaves Rome for his Apostolic Voyage to Myanmar - from 26 to 30 November 2017.


Video Message of His Holiness, Pope Francis
prior to his Apostolic Voyage to Myanmar

Dear friends,

While I prepare to visit Myanmar, I wish to send a word of greeting and friendship to all her people.  I can't wait to meet you.

I am coming to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, a message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.  My visit seeks to confirm the Catholic community in Myanmar in their faith in God and their witness to the gospel, which teaches us the dignity of every man and woman, and challenges all of us to open our hearts to others, especially to the poor and those who are in need.

At the same time, I want to visit your nation in a spirit of respect and encouragement for every endeavour to build harmony and cooperation in service to the common good.  We are living in a time when believers and men of good will increasingly feel the need to grow in mutual understanding and respect, and to support one another as members of the same human family because we are all children of God.

I know that many of you in Myanmar are working very hard to prepare for my visit, and I thank you for that.  I ask each of you to pray that the days I will spend with you may be a source of hope and encouragement for everyone.  Upon you and all your families, I invoke the divine blessings of joy and peace!  See you soon!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Greetings to the COP-23 delegates

The Holy Father has sent a Message to His Excellency, Mister Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of the Fiji Islands, who is presiding over the 23rd session of the Conference of States who are participants in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-23) which is taking place in Bonn (Germany) from 6 to 17 November 2017.  The Holy Father's Message was read aloud yesterday during the working session.


Message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to participants taking part in the
COP-23 Climate Change Conference

To His Excellency, Mister Frank Bainimarama
Prime Minister of the Fiji Islands
President of the 23rd session of the Conference of States
participating in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-23)

Bonn, 6-17 November 2017

Your Excellency,

A little less than two years ago, the international community was gathered in the UNFCCC forum, with a great number of high-level governmental representatives, and following a long and complex debate, arrived at the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement.  This brought about a consensus concerning the necessity to adopt a common strategy in order to face one of the most preoccupying phenomena that humanity has ever experienced: climate change.

Willingness to follow up on this consensus was then made apparent by the rapidity with which the Paris Accord itself entered into effect, less than one year after its adoption.

The Agreement indicates a clear process of transition toward a model of low or no carbon economic development, encouraging solidarity and building on the close links between the fight for climate change and the fight against poverty.  This transition was then relaunched by the climate emergency, which called for a greater commitment on the part of all countries, some of which must seek to assume leadership roles to guide the transition, having the needs of the most vulnerable populations always close to heart.

These days, you are gathered in Bonn to continue another important phase of the Paris Agreement: the process of defining and constructing the lines of conduct, rules and institutional mechanisms, so that they may truly be effective and able to contribute to the pursuit of the complex objectives that have been set out.  In such a process, it is necessary that you maintain the willingness to collaborate.

From this perspective, I wish to remind you of my urgent invitation to a new dialogue concerning the way we build the future of the planet.  We need a conversion that will unite us all, since the environmental challenge that we are experiencing and its human roots, concern us and affect us all ...  Unfortunately, many efforts at seeking concrete solutions to the environmental crisis often fail (for various reasons that) range from negation of the problem to indifference, easy resignation, or blind trust in technical solutions (Encyclical, Laudato si', 14).

We will have to avoid falling into these four perverse attitudes, which certainly do not help honest research and sincere and fruitful dialogue concerning the building of the future of our planet; denial, indifference, resignation and unsuitable solutions.

Moreover, we cannot limit ourselves to merely economic or technological dimensions: technical solutions are needed but not enough; it is also essential and fair to attentively take into consideration the ethnic and social aspects and impacts of the new paradigm of development and the progress that is made in the short, medium and long terms.

In this perspective, it seems ever more necessary that we pay attention to education and to various lifestyles imbued with an integral ecology, able to assume a vision of honest research and open dialogues where different dimensions of the Paris Accord intertwine.  It is good to remember that this agreement recalls our grave responsibility ... to act without delay, in the freest way possible with respect to the political and economic pressures, by surpassing the expectations and behaviours of individuals (cf Message to the COP-22 gathering).  In concrete terms, it is a matter of propagating a responsible conscience toward our common home (cf Laudato si', 202, 231) through the contribution of all peoples, in an attempt to explain different forms of action and partnerships between various stakeholders, some of whom do not hesitate to point out the talents of human beings in favour of the common good.

While sending my greetings to you, Mister President, and to all the participants taking part in this Conference, I wish that, under your influential leadership and that of the Fiji Islands, the work of these days may be led by the same spirit of collaboration and proposal that was demonstrated during COP-21; this will accelerate awareness and strengthen the will to make truly effective decisions to combat climate change and, in this context, combat poverty and promote true integral human development.  May the wise providence of the Most High support you in this commitment!

From the Vatican
7 November 2017

Francis
(original text in French)

Austria at the Vatican

This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the President of the Republic of Austria, His Excellency, Mister Alexander Van der Bellen, who subsequently met with His Eminence, Pietro Parolin, the Cardinal Secretary of State, accompanied by His Excellency, Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, the good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Austria were evoked. Attention then turned to matters of mutual interest, such as the defence of the inviolable dignity of the human person, the promotion of a culture of encounter, and concern for the care of creation.

Finally, the parties highlighted the role of the international community in the search for peaceful solutions to ongoing conflicts in various regions of the world, also reiterating their joint commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons.

Some words about end of life issues

The Holy Father, Pope Francis has sent a Message to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, His Excellency,Vincenzo Paglia, and to all the participants taking part in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association.  The focus of this encounter is end of life considerations.  It is being organized in the Old Synod Hall in the Vatican from 16 to 17 November 2017.


Message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life

To My Venerable Brother
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia
President of the Pontifical Academy for Life

I extend my cordial greetings to you and to all the participants in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association on end-of-life issues, held in the Vatican in conjunction with the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Your meeting will address questions dealing with the end of earthly life. They are questions that have always challenged humanity, but that today take on new forms by reason of increased knowledge and the development of new technical tools. The growing therapeutic capabilities of medical science have made it possible to eliminate many diseases, to improve health and to prolong people’s life span. While these developments have proved quite positive, it has also become possible nowadays to extend life by means that were inconceivable in the past. Surgery and other medical interventions have become ever more effective, but they are not always beneficial: they can sustain, or even replace, failing vital functions, but that is not the same as promoting health. Greater wisdom is called for today, because of the temptation to insist on treatments that have powerful effects on the body, yet at times do not serve the integral good of the person.

Some sixty years ago, Pope Pius XII, in a memorable address to anaesthesiologists and intensive care specialists, stated that there is no obligation to have recourse in all circumstances to every possible remedy and that, in some specific cases, it is permissible to refrain from their use (cf. AAS XLIX [1957], 1027-1033). Consequently, it is morally licit to decide not to adopt therapeutic measures, or to discontinue them, when their use does not meet that ethical and humanistic standard that would later be called “due proportion in the use of remedies” (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Euthanasia, 5 May 1980, IV). The specific element of this criterion is that it considers the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources (CDF, Declaration on Euthanasia, 5). It thus makes possible a decision that is morally qualified as withdrawal of overzealous treatment.

Such a decision responsibly acknowledges the limitations of our mortality, once it becomes clear that opposition to it is futile. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2278). This difference of perspective restores humanity to the accompaniment of the dying, while not attempting to justify the suppression of the living. It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment; from an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.

Needless to say, in the face of critical situations and in clinical practice, the factors that come into play are often difficult to evaluate. To determine whether a clinically appropriate medical intervention is actually proportionate, the mechanical application of a general rule is not sufficient. There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved. In caring for and accompanying a given patient, the personal and relational elements in his or her life and death – which is after all the last moment in life – must be given a consideration befitting human dignity. In this process, the patient has the primary role. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes this clear: The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able (Catechism, 2278). The patient, first and foremost, has the right, obviously in dialogue with medical professionals, to evaluate a proposed treatment and to judge its actual proportionality in his or her concrete case, and necessarily refusing it if such proportionality is judged lacking. That evaluation is not easy to make in today's medical context, where the doctor-patient relationship has become increasingly fragmented and medical care involves any number of technological and organizational aspects.

It should also be noted that these processes of evaluation are conditioned by the growing gap in healthcare possibilities resulting from the combination of technical and scientific capability and economic interests. Increasingly sophisticated and costly treatments are available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population, and this raises questions about the sustainability of healthcare delivery and about what might be called a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care. This tendency is clearly visible at a global level, particularly when different continents are compared. But it is also present within the more wealthy countries, where access to healthcare risks being more dependent on individuals’ economic resources than on their actual need for treatment.

In the complexity resulting from the influence of these various factors on clinical practice, but also on medical culture in general, the supreme commandment of responsible closeness, must be kept uppermost in mind, as we see clearly from the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan (cf Lk 10:25-37). It could be said that the categorical imperative is to never abandon the sick. The anguish associated with conditions that bring us to the threshold of human mortality, and the difficulty of the decision we have to make, may tempt us to step back from the patient. Yet this is where, more than anything else, we are called to show love and closeness, recognizing the limit that we all share and showing our solidarity. Let each of us give love in his or her own way—as a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother or sister, a doctor or a nurse. But give it! And even if we know that we cannot always guarantee healing or a cure, we can and must always care for the living, without ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their death. This approach is reflected in palliative care, which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome—pain and loneliness.

Within democratic societies, these sensitive issues must be addressed calmly, seriously and thoughtfully, in a way open to finding, to the extent possible, agreed solutions, also on the legal level. On the one hand, there is a need to take into account differing world views, ethical convictions and religious affiliations, in a climate of openness and dialogue. On the other hand, the state cannot renounce its duty to protect all those involved, defending the fundamental equality whereby everyone is recognized under law as a human being living with others in society. Particular attention must be paid to the most vulnerable, who need help in defending their own interests. If this core of values essential to coexistence is weakened, the possibility of agreeing on that recognition of the other which is the condition for all dialogue and the very life of society will also be lost. Legislation on health care also needs this broad vision and a comprehensive view of what most effectively promotes the common good in each concrete situation.

In the hope that these reflections may prove helpful, I offer you my cordial good wishes for a serene and constructive meeting. I also trust that you will find the most appropriate ways of addressing these delicate issues with a view to the good of all those whom you meet and those with whom you work in your demanding profession.

May the Lord bless you and the Virgin Mary protect you.

From the Vatican
7 November 2017

Francis
(translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticano)