Meeting with members of the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists, Pope Francis highlights the crucial role this professional category plays in society, which has been further confirmed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Lisa Zengarini (Vaticannews)

Pope Francis has praised pharmacists for their engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic, recalling that they play a critical social role in society. “Pharmacists are like a ‘bridge’ between citizens and the health system”, he said.

His remarks came during an audience on Monday with 15 members of the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists. 

In his address, the Holy Father noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has put pharmacists “at the forefront” and has encouraged them support each other.

In this regard, he congratulated the Federation for taking the opportunity of the crisis to give a new impulse to its associative commitment  which, he noted, “is typical of the Catholic tradition.”

Making healthcare more human

Speaking about their social role, the Pope said pharmacists offer a twofold contribution to the common good. On the one hand, they lighten the burden on the health system, while on the other they “ease social tension”.

“Of course, this role must be played with great prudence and professionality, but for people closeness, advice and the familiarity that should be typical of ‘human-sized’ health care is a very important aspect,” he remarked.

“Citizens, often at a lost, have found in you a point of reference for assistance, advice, and information. In the neighborhoods, pharmacists are on hand; they are near home; they are more familiar, closer.”

Converting people to an integral ecology

Pope Francis further called attention to the contribution that pharmacists can make to converting people “to an integral ecology”.

“We are all called to learn a lifestyle that is more respectful of the environment in which God has placed us, of our common home. A healthy way of eating and, in general, of living is also part of this lifestyle.”

Educating toward healthier lifestyles

He therefore remarked that pharmacists can “educate” people to leading a healthier life, also inspired by the knowledge and practices of other cultures such as those of the East, or those of the native peoples of America.

Pharmacists, the Pope added, can also help us to  “unmask misleading information on false ‘well-being’” and educate us to a truly “good life”, “which is not a privilege of a few but within everyone’s reach.”

Pope Francis concluded by entrusting the Catholic pharmacists to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and their patron, Saint Giovanni Leonardi.