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Healthcare is a Big Challenge to Catholic Church: Pope

Healthcare is a Big Challenge to Catholic Church: Pope

From Our Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network - Bangalore

Bangalore, Nov 28: The Church always turns with the same spirit of fraternal sharing to those who experience pain, animated by the Holy Spirit with the power of love, returned meaning and dignity to the mystery of suffering, Pope Benedict XVI said in his message to the 27th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care held in Rome in Vatican’s new synod hall recently.

Speaking to Daijiworld, Archbishop of Bangalore Most Rev Dr Bernard Moras, who attended the five-day conference from November 15 to 20 as one of the five Indian delegates and presented a paper on ''Catholic Hospitals in a challenging world,” recalled Pope’s message of encouragement to all those involved in the ministry of health care to continue the good service to the Church, Society and Humanity, as healthcare was a big challenge to the Catholic Church.

The inaugural mass of the conference with, "The Hospital, Setting for Evangelisation: A Human and Spiritual Mission," as the theme was presided by Vatican’s Secretary of State, His Eminence Signor Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Dicastery, who inaugurated the conference, said the proclamation of the Word and the care of the sick were the two fundamental activities of the Church. In the light of the current Year of Faith and the recent thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, hospitals as important places for evangelisation constitute a crossroads of cultures and religions, areas where the apostolate of mercy.

''In industrialised countries, aside from the grave economic and financial crises, which have struck a number of nations and led to a drastic review of health services,” he felt serious challenges exist beginning with the preservation of the identity of Catholic hospitals and other health centres, and the maintenance of their specific role of 'subsidiarity'.

''This must be achieved without in any way diminishing the importance of fundamental issues such as full respect for life from conception to natural end; the humanisation of healthcare (which means showing full respect for patients, their identity and life experiences), palliative care etc,” Archbishop Zimowski said.

The Archbishop spoke of the grave difficulties in accessing basic healthcare, and recalled that ''people often die on account of a lack of basic medicines costing just a few dollars, as in the case of anti-malarial treatments.”


120,000 Health Institutions All Over World

He also emphasised the scarcity of basic diagnostic instruments and specialised training for healthcare personnel, due primarily to "the lack of opportunities" for further study, usually for economic reasons. He also noted that "the few resources available to hospitals in the poorest regions must be used for the benefit of the population without discrimination on the basis of faith or ethnic origin, in accordance with the Word, the teachings of the Church and the spirit and history of missions.”

Archbishop Zimowski said the tangible result of the Church’s role in the field of healthcare had led to over 120,000 Catholic healthcare and social centres from dispensaries working in remotest areas  to the big metropolitan cities and university polyclinics that are active thoroughout the world.

Fr Augusto Chendi, Under Secretary of Holy See Press Office, said the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Workers, on the occasion of the next World Day of the Sick on February 11 will publish a manual, translated into various languages and valid for the whole of the Liturgical Year.

The new volume will offer patients and all those involved in their physical and spiritual care a point of reference for theological reflection, pastoral care and prayer. ''Our intention in entrusting this manual to the Church, and to the world of healthcare, parishes and voluntary work, is to create a communion of grace, prayer and mutual charity,” Fr Chendi said.


Challenges to Catholic Hospitals

Archibishop Bernard Moras, in his paper on ''Catholic Hospitals in a Challenging World,” said India has witnessed remarkable improvement in the health situation of the people with gradual but steady growth in the personnel, healthcare facilities and the availability of some of the best treatment and healthcare facilities.

However, a vast majority of the people, especially the poor in under-served areas, found basic survival itself as a daily struggle and health a distant dream. Many people did not have access to affordable healthcare or even safe drinking water and sanitation, he said.

''The costs of medical care have risen to such prohibitive levels making facilities unavailable to many and leading to medical systems becoming unsustainable. High technology has an inhuman face leading to people feeling isolated and fragmented,” he said pointing out that, ''Death in modern medicine is seen as failure and is aggressively fought to such an extent that people are not able to die with dignity.”

The Catholic Church, Archbishop Moras said, has to ''play a vital role in attending the sick and alleviating their suffering, especially of those who are poor and cannot afford adequate treatment.” He explained the yeomen service provided by the Catholic Church in the health sector since time immemorial. ''Healthcare is one of the most crucial and essential service required by every citizen regardless of caste, creed and status.  Appropriate and high quality care can save and change innumerable lives.”

The healing ministry has a greater role to play in the existing healthcare situation of the country marked by challenges posed by communicable and non-communicable diseases, ailments of lifestyle, women and children’s problems as well as environmental issues, Archbishop Moras said.


Barely 2% Catholics Meet 20 % of India’s Health Needs

The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) is one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations with an expansive base of 3,300 member institutions, including large, medium and small hospitals, health centres and diocesan social service societies. CHAI network comprises 11 regional units, 600 sister-doctors, 25,000 sister-nurses and 10,000 plus religious para-professinals with roughly 21 million accessing CHAI healthcare facilities annually.

Though Catholics constitute barely 2 % of the country’s total population, the Catholic health facilities account for around 20 % of the healthcare provided in India, Archbishop Moras said pointing out that the Catholic Church has 746 hopsitals, 2,574 health centres, 70 rehabilitation centres, 107 centres for mental healthcare, 61 centres for alternative systems of medicine, 162 non-formal healthcare facilities, 115 nursing training centres including 6 medical colleges.

The Catholic Church was also running 165 leprosy treatment centres, 416 healthcare centres for the aged, 62 centres for tuberculosis treatment and the terminally ill, 67 community care centres for people with HIV/AIDS and 60 counselling centres.

Archbishop Moras called on the Pope for a private audience and sought special blessings on the Archdiocese of Bangalore as it celebrates the Diamond Jubilee and also for the people of Karnataka. The Archbishop also met with the priests of Bangalore Archdiocese and the priests from St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, who pursue various courses in Rome and presided at the Holy Mass at the Altar of the Tomb of St Peter in St Peter’s Basilica besides meeting with a number of Pontifical Dicasteries and the Colleges and Universities of his student priests.


Comment on this article

  • Vincy, Bangkok

    Thu, Nov 29 2012

    If the so called term of ‘forcible conversion’ was real then if it really worked then there is nobody can stop Christians from ruling the entire country. Just a meager 2% of Indian population has taken care of healthcare of 20% of the total 120 crore populations in India .This is true that every metro city people are looking for a convent school for their children primary education.
    The Very important factor here is that the facts and figures provided here clearly indicates that The holy Dalai lama has no knowledge of what Indian Christians have done and what to what extent they are blamed for forcible conversions..

    DisAgree [1] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Juliet Mascarenhas, Bejai/Mangalore

    Thu, Nov 29 2012

    From the facts and figures provided here it clearly indicates that the statement given by Dalai lama on christian conversion during his recent speech at Bangalore is wrong.
    The service rendered by the catholic community in the feild of health care is tremendous.May the lord shower his Choicest blessings on this service oriented and peace loving community.
    Craving blessings from Rev. Dr. Bernard Moras, Arch Bishop of Bangalore.
    Long live the Pope, the RC church and their faith.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [22] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar., M

    Thu, Nov 29 2012

    The topic is quite relevant to India at present because of the 'Pharma Pricing Policy' which has taken centrestage and opposed to by almost all Pharma Majors. While prices are expected to come down, it is feared that 'research' in the sector might be dealt a crippling blow.
    Health care in India particularly suffers from 'logistics' problem too. That our country has been an 'Experimental Pivot' for drugs of leading MNC majors is also no secret.There is no denying the active and effective role played by the Catholic Institutions for the betterment of Health Care dispensation in India.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [29] Reply Report Abuse

  • joegonsalves, Mangalore

    Thu, Nov 29 2012

    I have read with great interest the health care systems referred to in Rome - under the caption:

    "Health care is a Big Challenge to Catholic Church: Pope"

    I have more particularly noticed the comments made by Our Archbishop Bernard Moras at The Vatican. When Health Care poses a challenge it is heartening to know from Archbishop Bernard that all attempts are made to render adequate health care to all irrespective of caste and creed in India. It is pertinent to point out that indeed Archbishop Moras is in better position to speak on the subject as he held very responsible positions in at least two of the leading Catholic Hospitals in India. He was the Director of Father Muller's Hospital (Now a Medical College) in Mangalore an institution of name and fame which made a modest beginning over one hundred and thirty years ago under the patronage of a well known Jesuit Priest - Father Augustus Muller. It is hard to believe that this hospital which commenced as a Homeopathy clinic is now amongst the leading Medical Colleges and the attached hospital has a bed strength of more than 1200. The courses offered are various and indeed The congregation Sisters of Charity has been a tower of strength to this great Institution. Father Patrick Rodrigues who is the present successor as a Director ably assisted by Fathers Denis D'Sa, Richard Coelho, Prakash D'Souza, Rudolph D'Sa, Vincent Saldanha and others continue to render yeomen service to the public

    Again Archbishop Moras held a very responsible position in St. John's Medical College and Hospital sponsored by The C.B.C.I)and helped to take it to greater heights. A word of appreciation of Bishop Percival Fernandes - the founder Director of St. John's who laid the foundation for growth of this mighty Medical College and at one time he was ably helped by Father Patrick Ropdrigues as an administrator of the Hospital.

    Our Ecclesiastics have indeed played important roles in the growth of HEALTH CARE IN INDIA.

    Joe Gonsalves

    DisAgree [2] Agree [33] Reply Report Abuse

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