Pope to pharmacists: Don’t let the ‘culture of waste’ affect you

Pope Francis receives in audience a delegation of the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacy and of the Pharmaceutical Services of Health Authorities (SIFO), ahead of its national congress.

By Robin Gomes (Vaticannews)

Pope Francis on Thursday urged pharmacists to watch out against the culture of waste and maintain ethical principles in their profession, reiterating that abortion is murder.

He made the exhortation to some 150 representatives of the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacy and of the Pharmaceutical Services of Health Authorities (SIFO) as they kick off their 42nd national congress in Rome, October 14-17.  They are deliberating on the theme, “The pharmacist promoter and interpreter of change, emergency, and planning.”

The innkeeper of the Good Samaritan

He underscored the importance of the national public health system in ensuring the common good and social growth of a country, especially in the context of the pandemic, which is changing the organization and management of health and healthcare.

The Pope held out the figure of the innkeeper in the parable of the Good Samaritan, saying he reflects the daily routine and the hidden service of the hospital pharmacists. Requiring patience, constancy, and precision, amid little visibility, pharmacists can generate the “holiness of everyday life” by prayer and love.

Secondly, he added, the hospital pharmacist comes in immediate contact with patients; sometimes the pharmacy is invisible but makes everything work, ensuring the person is the recipient of care.

Conscientious objection

The third path, Pope Francis said, is the ethical dimension at the personal and social levels.  On the personal ethical level, he reminded hospital pharmacists, “You are always at the service of human life.” This he said, “may involve conscientious objection, which is not disloyalty, but on the contrary fidelity to your profession, if validly motivated”.  Noting a trend to do away with conscientious objection, the Holy Father said it is an ethical principle and the ultimate responsibility of every health professional which cannot be negotiated. 

Abortion – murder

Conscientious objection, the Pope continued is also a denunciation of injustices against innocent and defenseless life.  In this regard, the Pontiff raised the issue of abortion.  “You know that I am very clear about this: it is murder and it is not licit to become its accomplice,” he stressed.   Rather, he said, it is our duty to be close to situations, especially to women, so that they don’t regard abortion as a solution, because in reality, it is not the solution.

Culture of waste

On the social justice level, Pope Francis said that the pursuit of justice and the common good must be economically and ethically sustainable.  As the Italian National Health Service seeks to provide universal access to healthcare, the management and financial criteria should not be the sole norms. “The culture of waste must not affect your profession,” he said. He deplored the fact that elderly men and women are given half their medicine requirements to shorten their lives, saying, this too is waste.

The management of resources must not be only an economic issue but also an ethical and human one.  Everyone is called upon to obey the “ethical protocol” in science and conscience, the Pope added.