“Euthanasia is a crime against human life, incurable does not mean end of care”

“Samaritanus bonus” (The Good Samaritan), a newly published letter by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved by the Pope, reiterates the condemnation of any form of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and advocates support for families and healthcare workers.

On Tuesday, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced the publication of a Letter approved by Pope Francis on 25 June and entitled Samaritanus bonus (“The Good Samaritan”): On the Care of Persons in the Critical and Terminal Phases of Life”. It bears 14 July as its publication date, in honor of St Camillus de Lellis, the patron saint of the sick, hospitals, nurses and physicians.

“Incurable cannot mean that care has come at an end” – those who are terminally ill have the right to be welcomed, cured, loved. This is affirmed in Part One of Samaritanus bonus. The Letter aims to provide concrete ways to put into practice the parable of the Good Samaritan, who teaches us that “even when a cure is unlikely or impossible”, medical care, nursing care, psychological and spiritual care “should never be forsaken”.

Incurable, never un-care-able

“To cure if possible, always to care”[1]. These words of Pope Saint John Paul II explain that incurable is never synonymous with un-care-able. To provide care until the very end; to “be with” the sick person; to accompany, listen to, make him or her feel loved: this is how loneliness and isolation, the fear of suffering and death can be avoided. The entire document is focused on the meaning of pain and suffering in the light of the Gospel and of Jesus’s sacrifice.

Inalienable dignity of life

“The uninfringeable value of life is a fundamental principle of the natural moral law and an essential foundation of the legal order”, the Letter states. “We cannot directly choose to take the life of another, even if they request it”. Citing Gaudium et spes, the document reiterates that “abortion, euthanasia and wilful self-destruction poison human society” and “are a supreme dishonor to the Creator” (no. 27).

Obstacles that obscure the sacred value of human life

The document cites several factors that limit the ability of apprehending the value of life, such as when life is considered “worthwhile” only if certain psychic and physical conditions are present. One of these obstacles the Letter notes is a false understanding of “compassion”. True compassion, it explains, “consists not in causing death”, but in affectionately welcoming and supporting the person who is sick, and providing the means to alleviate his or her suffering. Another obstacle it lists is a growing individualism that provokes loneliness.

The teaching of the Magisterium

It is a definitive teaching that euthanasia represents “a crime against human life”, and, therefore, is “intrinsically evil” in every circumstance. Any “formal or immediate material cooperation” constitutes a grave sin against human life that no authority can “legitimately recommend or permit”. Those who approve laws in favor of euthanasia “become accomplices” and are “guilty of scandal” because these laws contribute to the malformation of consciences. The act of euthanasia must always be rejected. However, the Letter acknowledges that the desperation or anguish of the person requesting it might diminish or even make “non-existent” his or her personal responsibility.

No to aggressive treatments

The document also explains that protecting the dignity of death means excluding aggressive medical treatments. Therefore, when death is imminent and inevitable, “it is lawful…to renounce treatments that provide only a precarious or painful extension of life”, without, however, interrupting necessary ordinary treatments the patient requires, such as food and hydration “as long as the body can benefit from them”. Palliative care is a “precious and crucial instrument” with which to accompany the patient. Palliative care must never include the possibility of euthanasia, the Letter emphasizes, but should include the spiritual assistance of both the person who is sick and the members of their families.

Support for families

It is important in caring for a sick person that he or she is not made to feel like a burden, but that they “sense the intimacy and support of their loved ones. The family needs help and adequate resources to fulfil this mission”. State governments need to “recognize the family’s primary, fundamental and irreplaceable social function (…) [and] should undertake to provide the necessary resources and structures to support it.”

Care in the prenatal and pediatric stages

From the moment of conception, children affected by malformation or other chronic illnesses are to be accompanied in a “manner respectful of life”. In cases of “prenatal pathologies…that will surely end in death within a short period of time”, and when no treatment exists to improve the child’s condition, the child “should not be left without assistance, but must be accompanied like any other patient until they reach natural death”, without suspending food and hydration. The Letter states that “recourse to prenatal diagnosis” is “obsessive” in today’s society and notes that it sometimes results in the choice for abortion or other “selective purposes”. Both abortion and the use “prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes” are “unlawful”, the Letter asserts.

Deep sedation

To alleviate pain, medication is used that may “induce the loss of consciousness”. The Letter affirms that it is morally licit to sedate “to ensure that the end of life arrives with the greatest possible peace and in the best internal conditions”. This also applies to types of sedation that hasten “the moment of death (deep palliative sedation in the terminal stage)”. But it is not acceptable that sedation be administered that “directly and intentionally causes death”, something the Letter defines as a “euthanistic practice”.

The vegetative state

Even in the case when the patient is not conscious, he or she “must be acknowledged in their intrinsic value and assisted with suitable care”, which includes the right to food and hydration. There may, however, be cases in which “such measures can become disproportionate” because they are no longer effective or because the means of administering them “create an excessive burden”. In this case, the Letter states that “adequate support must be provided to the families who bear the burden of long-term care for persons in these states”.

Conscientious objection

The Letter requests that locals Churches and Catholic institutions and communities “adopt a clear and unified position to safeguard the right of conscientious objection” in contexts where morally grave practices are allowed by law. It also invites Catholic institutions and healthcare personnel to witness to the values the Church professes regarding life issues.

Specifically in the case of euthanasia, the document states that “there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection”. It is important that doctors and healthcare workers be formed in accompanying the dying in a Christian way. The spiritual accompaniment of a person who chooses to be euthanized requires that of “an invitation to conversion”, and never any gesture “that could be interpreted as approval”, such as remaining present while the euthanasia is being performed.

[1] John Paul II, Address to the Participants in the International Congress on “Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas”.


Bangladesh Catholic hospitals treat Covid-19 patients with Pope’s ventilators

Three ventilators donated by Pope Francis are being used in Catholic hospitals in Dhaka, Dinajpur and Jessore.

The Catholic Church of Bangladesh has expressed its gratitude to Pope Francis for donating three ventilators in the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Donated through the Apostolic Nuncio, a ventilator was sent to Dhaka and the others were sent to two Catholic hospitals in Dinajpur and Jessore.

The Holy See’s Press Office had announced on June 26 that the Pope had donated 35 ventilators to 13 countries with fragile healthcare systems, as a gesture of his closeness and support in their fight against the Covid-19 virus. 

Among the beneficiaries Haiti, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.  

Pope’s gift a blessing

Father Kamal Corraya, Executive Director of the St. John Vianney Hospital in Dhaka, which received one of the ventilators, said the Pope’s gift for their intensive care unit has been a blessing. “It will be very useful for assisting coronavirus patients,” he told the Vatican’s Fides news agency. 

Their hospital’s medical team, Fr. Corraya said, keeps in touch with Covid-19 positive patients at home and advises, motivates and provides them with necessary instructions, which is of great help especially to the poorest.  The hospital provides medical care to anyone who asks.

Dr Edward Pallab Rozario, a Catholic doctor at the hospital, also expressed his gratitude to the Pope.  “The gift of the Holy See is a blessing and is really precious for the small Christian community in Bangladesh,” he told Fides. 

In agreement with the Health Department of the Government of Bangladesh, St. John Vianney Hospital collects samples of swab tests and sends them for analysis to the state Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research. Over the past few months, the Catholic hospital has been regularly carrying out hundreds of swab tests.  It is opening a new operating room soon. 

Hospital’s history

The hospital has been active since November 2019, when Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, Archbishop of Dhaka, inaugurated it in the presence of the civil and religious authorities. It is located in one of the busiest areas of the city and near the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, which has about 15,000 faithful, including local Catholics and migrants.

On April 29, the facility was temporarily closed down and the entire staff of over 60 employees was placed in self-quarantine after 22 medical staff tested positive for Covid-19. After their recovery, the hospital resumed its activity fully.

In Bangladesh, the Catholic Church manages 12 hospitals, 78 dispensaries, 6 leper hospitals, 15 homes for the elderly and the disabled. (Source: Fides)


Indonesia’s Catholic Church holds Virtual Youth Day

The Commission for Youth of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI), organized the 2-day Virtual Youth Day (VYD), streamed live on YouTube over the weekend.

By Robin Gomes

For the first time, Indonesia’s young Catholics held the Indonesian Youth Day online because of the Covid-19 restrictions.  “Rooted, blooming and bearing fruit” was the theme of the August 28 to 30 Virtual Youth Day (VYD) that was streamed live on YouTube.  Organizers said over 5,000 youth from all over the vast archipelago participated in the event. 

Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi of Ketapang, chairman of the Commission for Youth of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI), kicked off the 2-day event on Friday with a concelebrated Mass in the Cathedral of Ketapang, in West Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo.

Rooted, blooming, bearing fruit in Christ

“God always finds ways to love young people. Young people’s imagination and energy to be creative never end, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bishop Prapdi said in his homily. He commended their spirit to serve the Church and the nation and the desire to share their joy and inspiration with others.

Commenting on the theme (Colossians 2:7), he said that young people were called to make life choices wisely by being rooted, blooming and bearing fruit in Christ.

Reaching out via social media

“To be rooted in Christ means that our life is sourced from Christ. To bloom in Christ means that we recognize our growth potential and challenges. To bear fruit in Christ means that we have grateful hearts which are capable of loving others,” he said.

Despite the challenges regarding jobs, studies, communities and health conditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Bishop Prapdi encouraged the young people to continue being “rooted in Christ, to grow in faith and to bear fruit through services by using social media platforms”.

VYD’s second day programme included traditional songs, dances and sharing sessions.

The idea of a Virtual Youth Day was decided in late July because of the Covid-19 restrictions,  Father Antonius Haryanto, executive secretary of the Commission for Youth, told UCA News.

In the lead-up to the August VYD, he said they held live-streamed talk shows, in which priests, psychologists and young people developed the theme of the event.

“I do hope that young people can become the main actors. Even though their activities are very limited amid the Covid-19 pandemic, they still can become visionary leaders who help the society or make breakthroughs possible,” Father Haryanto said.

Ronald Taemisa, a participant from the Archdiocese of Kupang, regarded the first Virtual Youth Day as “a milestone.” “We live in a modern world. We can positively use social media platforms to show the world that young people in Indonesia can do something useful for others,” he told UCA News.

Indonesia’s Covid-19 burden 

Indonesia is currently grappling with one of the worst surges in Covid-19 cases in South-east Asia.  The 2,858 new infections reported on Sunday were below the previous day’s record of 3,308 but above the past month’s daily average.  Its total number of cases rose to 172,053, with 7,343 deaths. 

The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) reported on Monday that 100 doctors have died so far from COVID-19.


India Christian Churches pray online at Pentecost against pandemic

An ecumenical initiative brought together the faithful of various Christian Churches of India for an online prayer service on Pentecost Sunday, during which they prayed to the Holy Spirit for the nation.

By Robin Gomes

Leaders of Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and evangelical fellowships of India rang bells, sang hymns and prayed together online at noon on Pentecost Sunday, evoking the power of the Holy Spirit on the nation as it struggles against the growing number of Covid-19 infections.  

India added more than 50,000 cases in the past week, totalling more than 191,000 infections with over 5,400 deaths. With daily infections increasing to more than 8,000 and the government relaxing lockdown norms, experts say the contagion could spread further.

“We are united in one accord and united in faith,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), as he urged Christians to pray for the nation.

The United Christian Forum, an ecumenical group, organized the prayer initiative.

Several bishops joined the prayer programme, including Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, the capital of central India’s Madhya Pradesh state.

All the Catholic parishes in Bhopal Archdiocese held prayers at noon as planned, while Archbishop Cornelio also led an online prayer service for Catholics to attend from their homes, said archdiocesan spokesperson Father Maria Stephen.

It was “a prayer of hope at the time everyone in the country is struggling with no immediate respite from the pandemic that continues to spread among the masses,” Archbishop Cornelio told UCA News after the event.

Pastor Vinu Paul, who leads New Frontier Church based in the western state of Maharashtra, said people in his church “prayed together for the healing of our land.”

Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore also exhorted Christians to seek God’s help to save the country from coronavirus.

“When we all pray together, God will send his Holy Spirit and deliver the nation” of 1.3 billion people, the bishop said.

The feast of Pentecost, observed 50 days after Easter, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, on the Virgin Mary and the Apostles, as they gathered in the “upper room” in Jerusalem. The event marks the birth of the Church.

The 25-minute-long prayer service began with the ringing of bells, which organizers said symbolized the message of hope that “must ring out from the church to the nation”.

The ecumenical initiative included prayers for healing and for various sectors of society such as the government, politicians, those in authority, the police, healthcare workers and victims of the pandemic.

Divine Word Father John Paul, one of the organizers and president of Indore-based Christian Media Forum, said they prayed “for all the unsung heroes of our day namely; doctors, nurses, medical professionals, police and other law and order enforcing personals, grocers, truckers, farmers, bank employees, those maintaining supply of electricity, water, and other essential services.”  “All these and others, who are on the front lines, need God’s special protection as they serve us,” the priest added.

The prayer ended with the singing of the national anthem.


Gathered together in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus

Thousands of people joined the approximately 130 persons gathered in the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens to recite the Rosary with Pope Francis on the last Saturday of the month of May.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Pope Francis united with thousands of people throughout the world sought the Blessed Mother’s help to end the coronavirus pandemic. The Pope along with about 130 gathered at the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens. Thousands of others prayed with them as they watched and listened through television, radio and digital platforms. As they prayed, images of numerous Marian shrines throughout the world appeared on a large screen at the Vatican Lourdes Grotto and on the screens of those connected for the event.

The intentions for the Rosary

The first Glorious Mystery was led by a doctor and a nurse in the name of all the medical personnel dedicated on the fronts lines in the hospitals for doctors, nurses and all medical personnel.

The second Glorious Mystery was led by a person who has recovered from the virus and a person who lost a family member to represent those who have been personally affected by the virus for the intention of all military personnel, security forces, fire fighters all volunteers.

The third Glorious Mystery was led by a priest who is a hospital chaplain and a woman religious who is a nurse to represent all of the priests and consecrated persons who are near those who are suffering from illness for the intention of priests and consecrated persons who bring the Sacraments and a word of Christian comfort to the sick. We were reminded that some of their number have lost their lives in serving their communities. 

The fourth Glorious Mystery was led by a pharmacist and a journalist to highlight those who continued to provide their precious service for the benefit of others during the time of pandemic. The intention for this mystery was for the dying, above all those dying alone, for those who have died, and for the families who still mourn their deaths.

Lastly, the fifth Glorious Mystery was led by a member of the Italian Civil Protection service with his own family, to represent all those whose work is directed toward managing this crisis as well as the world of volunteers who never failed to bear witness to charity. The second half was led by a young couple who recently had a baby, a sign of hope and of the victory of life over death. This mystery was prayed for all those who need to have their faith and hope strengthened, for the unemployed, for those who are alone and all the babies who have come into the world.

Other highlights

At the beginning and at the end of the recitation of the Rosary, Pope Francis prayed the prayers he suggested be used to accompany the Rosary throughout the month of May. After extending his apostolic blessing, the Pope said a few spontaneous words acknowleding those connected from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and other Latin American Shrines: “To all of the shrines in Latin America – Guadalupe and many others – who are connected with us, united in prayer, I greet you in my own mother tongue: thank you for being near. May Our Mother of Guadalup accompany us!”

Approximately 50 shrines were connected throughout the moment of prayer. They included the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Our Lady of Lourdes in France, the Immaculate Conception in the United States, Walsingham in England, Our Lady of Pompeii, Divine Love and Pietrelcina in Italy,  Our Lady of Lujan in Argentina, Our Lady of Knock in Ireland, Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, St Mary of the Angels in Assisi, Notre Dame in Canada and the Basilica of the Annunciation in Israel.


Covid-19: Vatican Secretary of State calls for international solidarity

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, calls for a commitment to international solidarity, and confirms the Church is close to those who are suffering because of the coronavirus.

By Andrea Tornielli

In an exclusive interview with Vatican Media, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, confirms the closeness of the Church to those who are suffering during this dramatic time of the coronavirus pandemic. He calls for a spirit of “international solidarity” and says this is not the time to “shut ourselves off” from others. 

How are the Pope and the Roman Curia living this crisis?
We are sharing this difficult moment with everyone. It is a dramatic moment for many. I am thinking of the sick, the elderly above all, the dying, their families. We are in the time of the Easter Vigil. The Church keeps vigil with everyone. She is close to those who suffer and are in need. We need to be freed from the imprisonment of a time lived in frustration, from the threat of sickness and death. “Lazarus, come out!” (Jn 11:43), is the cry that resounds in time, particularly now, so as to be a new time of life and spirit. Pope Francis is seeking every way possible to be close to people throughout the world. Contact with people has always been fundamental for him, and he intends to maintain this, even if in a new and unprecedented way. The daily live broadcast of the Holy Mass from Santa Marta is a concrete example. The constant prayer for the victims, their families, health care personnel, volunteers, priests, workers, families is another. All of us collaborators are trying to help him maintain contact with the Churches in all the countries of the world.

This crisis is affecting families, changing people’s lives and causing serious repercussions even on the economic system. What can it teach us?
We are experiencing a tragedy bound to have significant consequences on our lives. First of all, we are being confronted with our fragility and vulnerability.  We realize that we are not creators, but poor creatures, who exist because Someone gives them life at every moment. We are not absolute masters either. All it takes is a mere nothing, a mysterious and invisible enemy, to make us suffer, to make us seriously ill, to make us die. We realize that we are small, insecure, helpless.  We are also confronted with the essential, with what really matters. We are offered the possibility of rediscovering the value of family, friendship, interpersonal relationships, relationships that we normally neglect, solidarity, generosity, sharing, closeness in the concreteness of small things. We need one each other, communities and societies, to help us care for one another.  Finally, I believe this is an opportune moment to return to God with all our hearts, as Pope Francis reminded us during the extraordinary moment of prayer on March 27th, and a few days earlier in the “ecumenical” Our Father, prayed together with all the world’s Christians.

How does Christian faith help us interpret what is happening?
Christian faith is God irrupting in human history. God who becomes flesh, God who comes to share everything about our existence except sin, and is willing to suffer and die to save us. We are preparing to celebrate Easter in this Lent which has been unique: Jesus rises, conquers death, gives life. Faith’s outlook in these difficult times helps us to abandon ourselves more and more to God, to knock on His door with our incessant prayer that He may shorten this time of trial. It helps us to see all the good that surrounds us, and that is witnessed by many people. It is comforting to experience the pastoral creativity, already mentioned by Pope Francis, of bishops, priests, men and women religious, and the commitment of many lay people. They are the “voice” of the Gospel. So are all those (from doctors to nurses to volunteers) who are fighting the disease. I think it is good to see how the Church, which lives immersed in the reality of her people, seeks and finds a thousand ways, using all possible means, to ensure that people are not left alone, that they can pray and receive a comforting word. It struck me that, even in the current crisis, people are finding a way to express themselves – for example through music and song – in order to be together. I would like this to happen in some way in parishes too. It would be nice if all the churches could ring their bells for one minute at the same time, for example at noon; and that this sound might be a call to pray together, even given the physical distance.

What can you tell us about the health situation of the Holy See’s employees?
As you know, at the present time there are seven positive, confirmed cases of Covid-19. At the beginning of March, there was the case of someone who underwent a medical examination in view of employment. In the past weeks, another six have been discovered. All of them have passed the critical phase and are now improving.  Obviously, as in Italy and in all the countries of the world, we are daily and hourly monitoring the situation, thanks to the dedication of our doctors and nurses.

What is the Holy See doing during this time to help the Churches around the world?
Through its Dicasteries, the Holy See is committed to maintaining contact with the local Churches, trying to help, as far as possible, the populations particularly affected by the spread of the coronavirus, regardless of religious or national affiliation, as it has always done.  Since the global health emergency began, the Holy Father himself wanted to express his closeness and solidarity with the Chinese population, sending a gift to the charitable organization Jinde Charities and the Diocese of Hong Kong, and later also to Iran, Italy and Spain. Various initiatives are being studied to provide concrete gestures of solidarity, and to witness charity.

Masses and other liturgies – including funerals – have been suspended. Churches, however, are still open almost everywhere. What does this mean? What do you want to say to the faithful who cannot receive the sacraments?
The suspension of celebrating the liturgy was necessary to avoid large gatherings. However, in almost every city, churches remain open. I hope those that may have been closed will reopen as soon as possible. Jesus is present there in the Eucharist; priests continue to pray and celebrate Holy Mass for the faithful who cannot participate there. It is nice to think that the doors to God’s house remain open, just as the doors of our houses remain open, even though we are strongly encouraged not to go out except for essential reasons. The family is a domestic church. We can pray and prepare ourselves for Easter by following the liturgies and prayers on television. To the many members of the faithful who suffer because they cannot receive the Sacraments, I would like to say that I share their sorrow. But I would like to recall the possibility of making a spiritual communion, for example. Moreover, Pope Francis, through the Apostolic Penitentiary, granted the gift of special indulgences to the faithful, not only to those affected by Covid-19, but also to health care providers, family members and all those who care for them in various ways, including through prayer. In a vigil like this one, there is also another aspect that must be highlighted and reinforced. This is possible for everyone: to pray with the Word of God; to read, to contemplate, to welcome the Word who is coming. With His Word, God has filled the void that frightens us in these hours. God communicated Himself in Jesus, the complete and definitive Word. We must not simply fill time, but fill ourselves with the Word.

Loneliness is one of the biggest challenges at this time. In the Covid-19 wards people are dying alone, without the comfort of relatives who are barred from entering the intensive care units. How can the Church show she is close to people?
This is one of the consequences of the epidemic that, in a certain sense, upsets me. I have read and heard dramatic and moving stories. When, unfortunately, a priest cannot be present at the bedside of a person who is dying, every baptized person can pray and bring comfort by virtue of the common priesthood received with the Sacrament of Baptism.  It is beautiful and evangelical to think that at this difficult time, in some way, even the hands of doctors, nurses, health care providers, who every day comfort, heal or accompany the sick in their last moments, become the hands and words of all of us, of the Church, of the family that blesses, says good-bye, forgives and comforts. It is God’s caress that heals and gives life, even eternal life.

How will the Holy Week liturgies take place in the Vatican?
We have studied different options than the traditional ones. In fact, it will not be possible to welcome pilgrims, as has always been the case. In full respect of the regulations to avoid infection, we will try to celebrate the great Rites of the Easter Triduum in order to accompany all those who, unfortunately, will not be able to go to church.

The crisis is becoming global and is beginning to involve countries in the world’s South. How can the Church contribute to a spirit of mutual help between different nations and continents with different problems, so as not to lose the spirit of solidarity and multilateral collaboration
Unfortunately, we are facing a pandemic and the virus is spreading like wildfire. On the one hand, we see how many extraordinary efforts are being made by developed countries. Many sacrifices have been made by ordinary individuals, families and national economies, to effectively tackle the health crisis and combat the spread of the virus. On the other hand, however, I must confess that I am even more concerned about the situation in the less developed countries. There, health care facilities are not able to ensure necessary and adequate care for the population in the event of a more widespread diffusion of the Covid-19 virus.  The Holy See’s vocation is to consider the entire world. It seeks not to forget those who are farthest away, those who suffer the most, those who perhaps struggle to gain the attention of the international media. This is not only a concern linked to the current pandemic emergency. How many wars, how many epidemics, how many famines scourge so many of our brothers and sisters! There is a real need to pray and to commit ourselves, all of us, so that international solidarity never fails. Despite the emergency, despite the fear, now is not the time to shut ourselves off from others. In these days, we are, unfortunately, realizing this: problems and tragedies that we usually consider far from our lives, have knocked on our doors. It is an opportunity to feel more united and to nurture the spirit of solidarity and sharing among all countries, among all peoples, among all men and women in the world. Challenges and profound changes will come about as a result of this crisis. Civil authorities need to exercise their responsibility beyond the self-centeredness of their own personal, group, and national interests. They need to provide for the common good, wisely and responsibly, according to the values of freedom and justice.


COVID-19: The Pope’s closeness to those who are suffering

In his daily homilies at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis continues to show how the Church is close to those suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Every morning, in the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis dedicates his Mass to particular groups of people who are suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

For the homeless

Most recently, on Tuesday, he prayed “for those who are homeless”:

“At this moment in which everyone is supposed to be at home, may society, men and women, realize this reality and help them, and that the Church might welcome them.”

For those who fear

On Monday 30 March, the Pope’s intention was “for the many people who are not succeeding in coping and remain in fear because of the pandemic”:

“May the Lord help them to have the strength to cope for the good of  society and the entire community.”

On Thursday March 26, the Pope had already turned his attention to the fear that often accompanies suffering:

“The fear of the elderly who are alone in nursing homes, or hospitals, or in their own homes, and don’t know what will happen. The fear of those who don’t have regular jobs and are thinking about how to feed their children. They foresee they may go hungry. The fear of many civil servants. At this moment they’re working to keep society functioning and they might get sick. There’s also the fear – the fears – of each one of us. Each one knows what their own fears are. We pray to the Lord that He might help us to trust, and to tolerate and conquer these fears.”

For those who weep

On Sunday 29 March, Pope Francis began the liturgy saying he was thinking “of the many people who are weeping, people who are isolated, in quarantine, the elderly; people who are alone, in hospital, parents who do not foresee receiving their salary and do not know how they will feed their children”…

“Many people are weeping. We too, from our hearts, accompany them. It wouldn’t do us any harm to weep a bit as our Lord wept for all of His people”.

For those who suffer hunger

On Saturday 28 March, the Pope prayed for those suffering from hunger because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re beginning to see people who are hungry because they can’t work. They may not have had a regular job, and from many other circumstances. We’re beginning to see the aftermath that will come later. But it’s beginning now. We pray for the families who are beginning to find themselves in need because of the pandemic”.

For those who pray

During his morning Mass on Friday 27 March, Pope Francis noted that the difficult times we are facing have inspired in many people a more general concern for others: for families that don’t have enough to get by, for the elderly who are alone, for the sick in hospitals. They are praying for others, “that help might somehow arrive”.

“This is a good sign, and we thank the Lord, who is arousing these sentiments in the hearts of the faithful”.

For those in difficulty

The Pope is also aware of the suffering of those families facing financial difficulties. On Monday 23 March, he prayed especially for them:

“Let us pray today for those persons who are beginning to experience economic problems because of the pandemic, because they cannot work… All of this affects the family. We pray for those people who have this problem.”

For medical personnel

The Pope has expressed his admiration for medical personnel and those who risk their lives caring for coronavirus patients. Before Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday, 24 March, he said:

“I received the news that in these days, a number of doctors and priests have died, I don’t know if there were a few nurses. They were infected…because they were serving the sick. Let’s pray for them, for their families. I thank God for the example of heroism they give us in caring for the sick.”

Urbi et orbi prayer

Before imparting his Urb et orbi blessing in St Peter’s Square on Friday 27 March, Pope Francis prayed that we might “hand over our fears” to the Lord, so that “He can conquer them”:

“Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.”


The 17th AFCMA Congress 2020

Theme: Building Bridges through Healing & Spirituality

“…. Every human being must envision to build bridges not only in the home, the community, or in the country-but in the entire world as we are all brothers and sisters with the Lord. As physicians, we are called to a mission of healing; but as catholic Physicians, may our way of healing not just be a profession but an action of love and mercy. With that bridge, we can go out to every man and woman bringing the goodness and tenderness of God.”

Manuel M. Po, MD, MPH
President AFCMA

Date: 29 October to 1 November, 2020
Venue: Armada Hotel, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Host: Catholic Doctors Association of Malaysia

Organising & Scientific CommitteeName
Organising ChairpersonDr Freddie Loh
SecretaryDr Juliet Mathew
Assistant Secretary
Christopher Phang
TreasurerDr Melvin Raj
Website & RegistrationDr Sharon Gopalan
Scientific ProgrammeDr Benedict Sim

   1. Dr Stephen Ambu
   2. Dr Richard Lim
   3. Dr Sharon Anne Khor
   4. Dr Mark Tan
   5. Prof Yvonne Lim
PublicationDr Juliet Mathew

   1. Dr Sharon Gopalan
Trade ExhibitionDr KY Chong

   1. Dr Francis Lopez
LiturgyDr Frederick Yap
FacilitiesDr David Kumar

   1. Dr Dunstan Fernandez
Entertainment/SocialDr Joseph Jacob

   1. Dato’ Dr Anthonysamy
   2. Dr G Raj

Website: WWW.AFCMA2020.COM