Corruption is cancer to health industry, pope tells hospital staffers

| Junno Arocho Esteves | December 15, 2016 | 3 Comments

Pope Francis blesses a sick child as he leads a special audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 15 for patients and workers of Rome’s Bambino Gesu children’s hospital. CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

Corrupt business practices that seek to profit from the sick and the dying are a cancer to hospitals entrusted with the care of the most vulnerable, especially children, Pope Francis said.

Doctors, nurses and those who work in the field of health care must be defined by their ability to help their patients and be on guard against falling down the slippery slope of corruption that begins with special favors, tips and bribes, the pope told staff and patients of Rome’s ‘Bambino Gesu’ children’s hospital Dec. 15.

“The worst cancer in a hospital like this is corruption,” he said. “In this world where there is so much business involved in health care, so many people are tricked by the sickness industry, ‘Bambino Gesu’ hospital must learn to say no. Yes, we all are sinners. Corrupt, never.”

The pope held an audience with thousands of young children, parents, doctors, nurses and volunteers from the hospital. Making his way into the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall, the pope greeted many of the young patients and their families who reached out to him, handing him letters and messages.

At the main stage, he sat in his chair surrounded by some of the young patients while listening to testimonies and questions from hospital staffers and a former patient.

Expressing his joy for their visit, he also apologized for the appearance of the hall, which was amid preparations for a Dec. 17 benefit concert. Comparing it to a “messy kitchen,” the pope said he was sorry “because this is not the way to receive people.”

The pope answered a question from Valentina Vanzi, a nurse at the hospital, who after explaining the heartbreak of watching so many children suffer asked, “Why do children die?”

Saying that there was no clear answer to the suffering of the innocent, Pope Francis said that Jesus responded to this question not by “preaching or theoretical discourses” but by offering meaning to suffering through his death on the cross.

“‘Why do children suffer?’ There isn’t an answer to this; only by looking at the cross and allowing (Jesus) to give us the answer. You may ask me: ‘But father, didn’t you study theology?’ Yes. ‘Didn’t you read books about this?’ Yes. ‘So, what is the answer?’ There is none. Look at the cross,” he said.

Hope, he continued, is the “fuel” of Christian life that doctors and nurses are called to give to young children who are suffering, and being close to them “is the medicine so the heart does not freeze” and become numb to their pain.

Those who work in the field of medicine and health care, he added, can be witnesses of holiness by “sowing life” through small, often hidden, gestures that flourish and give fruit.

“There was a French author who loved to say that the ‘middle class’ of holiness is made up of those who are always hidden but are there present through the holiness that is done every day through small things. Thank you for what you do,” the pope told the hospital staffers.

Pope Francis also praised Serena Antonucci, a former patient of the hospital who shared her experience of suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 13. Now in remission, the 27-year-old is studying medicine to help young children who suffer like she once did.

“In the bible — in the Book of Wisdom — there is a verse that speaks about a strong woman. We have seen one today: Serena, this strong woman who overcome pain. To all of you who work at ‘Bambino Gesu,’ women like this — strong men as well — are your greatest reward. The best reward is to see the results of your work in children and in people,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said that doctors and nurses like Serena save lives not only through their expertise but also by bringing joy, happiness and hope to those in need.

“The happiness of sowing life, of making life grow and to see how these children grow as strong men and women; this is joy, this is hope and this is your reward,” the pope said.

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Category: From the Pope

  • Charles C.

    Once again, in my apparent blindness, I fail to understand the Holy Father.

    “Corrupt business practices that seek to profit from the sick and the dying are a cancer to hospitals entrusted with the care of the most vulnerable, especially children, Pope Francis said.”

    Is he saying that all business practices which make a profit from the sick and dying are corrupt? Or, is he saying that profit making practices are all right as long as they aren’t corrupt profit making practices? (And, do we have the same definition of “profit?”)

    If the former, then how will hospitals operate? If the latter, which practices are corrupt and which are acceptable?

    If the Pope is willing to allow hospitals to charge to cover their expenses, will that include salaries of doctors, nurses, technicians, and management? Will he call for a limit on salaries? After all, Cuban doctors survive making about $30 a month and often take other jobs to supplement their income. Objections to high salaries for hospital management have been common for years.

    Will the Pope approve of going to investors to raise money for building new wings or new hospitals? If so, would he accept that the investors expect to make a return on their investment?

    Again, will somebody help explain this?

    • Dominic Deus

      I could be wrong but I think he was referring to practices in second and third world countries where bribery, special favors and fraud are all common
      and affect or direct health care access.

      I suppose the same principle applies here however. For example, how can a governor refuse to participate in Medicaid to take care of his states poor?

    • tschraad

      Charles C. – Not knowing for sure what he meant to say ———–

      Corruption is always wrong in any business. Yet the Pope comes from a background founded in corruption and bribery. He just has not been involved in thousands if not millions of businesses that treat their employees honestly.

      If the pope feels that no profit is necessary, then the employees should also work for no wages. If this logic prevails, we would have no need for doctors, etc. as they would need to be employed somewhere to earn wages to survive but then again, these corrupt (profitable) businesses would not longer exist so we would be back in the days of Adam and Eve and that didn’t work either.

      The Pope, in my opinion needs a class in econ 101 to recognize that good people can help others for the common good of mankind.