Katholieke Stichting Medische Ethiek
9 december 2022

Wereldwijde gezondheidszorg: géén wegwerpcultuur

Address to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Pope Francis
27 September 2021

Dear sisters and brothers,

I am happy to be able to meet you on the occasion of your General Assembly and I thank Msgr Paglia for his words. I extend a greeting also to the many Academics who are connected.

The theme you have chosen for these three days of workshops is particularly timely: that of public health in the horizon of globalization. Indeed, the crisis of the pandemic has made “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” reverberate even more strongly (Enc. Laudato Si’, 49). We cannot remain deaf before this dual cry. We have to listen to it well! And it is what you are setting out to do.

Examination of the numerous and grave issues that have emerged in the last two years is not an easy task. On the one hand we are worn out by the Covid-19 pandemic and by the inflation of issues that have been raised: we almost do not want to hear about it any more and we hurry on to other topics. However, on the other hand, it is essential to reflect calmly in order to examine in depth what has happened and to glimpse the path towards a better future for all. Truly, “even worse than this crisis is the tragedy of squandering it” (Pentecost homily, 31 May 2020). And we know that we do not emerge from a crisis the same: we will either emerge better or we will emerge worse. But not the same. The choice is in our hands. And I repeat, even worse than this crisis is the tragedy of squandering it. I encourage you in this effort. And I think the dynamic of discernment in which your meeting is taking place is wise and timely: first and foremost, listening attentively to the situation in order to foster a true and proper conversion and identify concrete decisions to emerge from the crisis, better.

The reflection that you have undertaken in recent years on global bioethics is revealing itself to be precious. I had encouraged you in this perspective with the letter Humana communitas on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of your Academy. The horizon of public health in fact offers the possibility to focus on important aspects for the coexistence of the human family and to strengthen the fabric of social friendship. These are central themes in the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti (cf. Chapter 6).

The crisis of the pandemic has highlighted the depth of the interdependence both among ourselves and between the human family and our common home (cf. Laudato Si’, 86; 164). Our societies, especially in the West, have had the tendency to forget this interconnection. And the bitter consequences are before our eyes. In this epochal change it is thus urgent to invert this noxious tendency and it is possible to do so through the synergy among different disciplines. Knowledge of biology and hygiene is needed, as well as of medicine and epidemiology, but also of economy and sociology, anthropology and ecology. In addition to understanding the phenomena, it is a matter of identifying technological, political and ethical criteria of action with regards to health systems, the family, employment and the environment.

This outlook is particularly important in the health field because health and sickness are determined not only by processes of nature but also by social life. Moreover, it is not enough for a problem to be serious for it to come to people’s attention and thus be addressed. Many very serious problems are ignored due to lack of an adequate commitment. Let us think of the devastating impact of certain diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis: the precariousness of health and hygiene conditions cause millions of avoidable deaths in the world every year. If we compare this reality with the concern caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we can see how the perception of the seriousness of the problem and the corresponding mobilization of energies and resources are very different.

Of course, taking all measures to stem and defeat Covid-19 on a global level is the right thing to do, but this moment in history in which our health is being threatened directly should make us aware of what it means to be vulnerable and to live daily in insecurity. We could thus assume the responsibility also for the grave conditions in which others live and of which we have so far been little or not interested at all. We could thus learn not to project our priorities onto populations who live on other continents, where other needs are more urgent; where, for example, not only vaccines but also drinking water and daily bread are in short supply. I don’t know if one should laugh or cry, cry sometimes, when we hear government leaders or community leaders advise slum dwellers to sanitize themselves several times a day with soap and water. But, my dear, you have never been to a slum: there is no water there, they know nothing about soap. “No, do not leave your home!”: but there the whole neighbourhood is home, because they live… Please, let us take care of this reality, even when we reflect on health. Let us welcome then, any commitment to a fair and universal distribution of vaccines — this is important —, but taking into account the broader field which demands the same criteria of justice for health needs and for the promotion of life.

Looking at health in its multiple dimensions at a global level helps to understand and take on with responsibility the interconnection between the phenomena. In this way, we can better observe how even the conditions of life that are the result of political, social and environmental choices have an impact on the health of human beings. If we examine in different countries and in different social groups the hope of life — and of a healthy life — we discover great inequalities. They depend on variables such as the amount of wages, the educational level, the neighbourhood in which one resides even though it is in the same city. We state that life and health are values that are equally fundamental for all, based on the inalienable dignity of the human person. But, if this statement is not followed by an adequate commitment to overcome inequality, we are de facto accepting the painful reality that not all lives are equal and health is not protected for everyone in the same way. And here, I would like to repeat my concern: that there always be a free healthcare system. May the countries which have them, not lose them, for example Italy and others, which have a good free healthcare system: do not lose it because otherwise we would end up with only members of the population who can afford it, having the right to healthcare and the others not. And this is a very big challenge. This helps overcome inequality.

Therefore, international initiatives are to be supported — I am thinking for example of those recently promoted by the G20 aimed at creating a global governance for the health of all the inhabitants of the planet, that is, a set of clear rules agreed at the international level that respect human dignity. In fact, the risk of new pandemics will continue to be a threat also for the future.

The Pontifical Academy for Life can also offer a precious contribution in this sense, seeing itself as a travelling companion of other international organizations committed to this same aim. With regards to this, it is important to participate in shared initiatives and in the appropriate manner, to the public debate. Naturally, this requires that, without “watering down” contents, attempts be made to communicate them in a language that is suitable and topics that can be understood in the current social context, so that the Christian anthropological proposition, inspired by Revelation, can also help today’s men and women to rediscover “the primacy of the right to life from conception to its natural end” (Discourse to participants in the Meeting sponsored by the Science and Life Association, 30 May 2015).

Here too, I would like to mention that we are victims of the throwaway culture. In his presentation, Msgr Paglia referred to something: but there is the throwing away of children that we do not want to welcome, with that abortion law that sends them back to their sender and kills them. Today this has become a “normal” thing, a habit that is very bad; it is truly murder. In order to truly grasp this, perhaps asking ourselves two questions may help: is it right to eliminate, to end a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? Abortion is this. And then on the other side, are the elderly: the elderly who are also a bit of “throwaway material” because they are not needed…. But they are the wisdom, they are the roots of the wisdom of our civilization, and this civilization discards them! Yes, in many places there is a “hidden” law on euthanasia, as I call it. It is the one that makes us say: “medicines are expensive, only half should be given”. This means shortening the lives of the elderly. In so doing, we deny hope, the hope of the children who bring us the life that makes us go forward, and the hope that is in the roots that the elderly give us. Instead, we discard both. And then the everyday throwing away, that life is thrown away. Let us be careful about this throwaway culture. It is not a problem of one law or another. It is a problem of throwing away. And on this point, you academics, the Catholic universities and also Catholic hospitals cannot allow themselves to go this way. This is a path which we cannot take: the throw away path.

Therefore, the work that your Academy has undertaken in recent years on the impact of new technologies on human life and more specifically on “algorethics” should be looked upon favourably in such a way “that science may truly be at the service of mankind, and not mankind at the service of science” (ibid ). I encourage in this regard, the work of the fledgling foundation, renAIssance, for the spreading and deepening of the Rome Call for AI Ethics which I strongly hope many will join.

Lastly, I wish to thank you for the commitment and contribution that the Academy has provided by actively participating in the Vatican Covid Commission. Thank you for this. It is beautiful to see cooperation within the Roman Curia in the fulfilment of a shared project. We have to increasingly develop these processes brought forth together, in which I know many of you have participated, urging greater attention to vulnerable people such as the elderly, the disabled and the younger ones.

With these feelings of gratitude, I entrust the work of this Assembly and also your activity as an Academy on the whole in favour of the defence and promotion of life, to the Virgin Mary. I offer my heartfelt blessing to each of you and your loved ones. And I ask you please to pray for me because I need it. Thank you.

Gezondheidszorg toegankelijk voor iedereen

11 juli 2021
Pope Francis

Dear Brothers and Sisters,


I am glad to be able to keep the Sunday Angelus appointment, even here from “Gemelli” Polyclinic. I thank you all: I have felt your closeness and the support of your prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

The Gospel passage we read today in the Liturgy recounts that Jesus’ disciples, sent by him, “anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them” (Mk 6:13). This “oil” also makes us think of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which gives comfort to spirit and body. But this “oil” is also listening, the closeness, the care, the tenderness of those who take care of the sick person: it is like a caress that makes you feel better, soothes your pain and cheers you up. All of us, all, need this “anointing” of closeness and tenderness sooner or later, and we can all give it to someone else, with a visit, a phone call, a hand outstretched to someone who needs help. Let us remember that, in the protocol of the final judgment — Matthew 25 — one of the things they will ask us will be about closeness to the sick.

In these days of hospitalization, I experienced once again how important is good healthcare that is accessible to all, as there is in Italy and in other countries. Free healthcare, that assures good service, accessible to everyone. This precious benefit must not be lost. It needs to be kept! And for this everyone needs to be committed, because it helps everyone and requires everyone’s contribution. In the Church too it happens that at times some healthcare institution, due to poor management, does not do well economically, and the first thought that comes to mind is to sell it. But vocation in the Church, is not to have money; it is to offer service, and service is always freely given. Do not forget this: saving free institutions.

I would like to express my appreciation and my encouragement to the doctors and all the healthcare workers and staff of this and of other hospitals. They work so hard! And let us pray for all the sick. Here there are some friends, sick children…. Why do children suffer? Why children suffer is a question that touches the heart. Accompany them with prayer and pray for all those who are sick, especially for those in the most difficult conditions: may no one be left alone, may everyone receive the anointing of listening, closeness, tenderness and care. Let us ask this through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, Health of the Sick.

After the Angelus the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters, in recent days my prayer has often been aimed at Haiti, following the assassination of its President and the wounding of his wife. I join in the heartfelt appeal of the country’s Bishops to “lay down weapons, choose life, choose to live together fraternally in the interest of all and in the interest of Haiti”. I am close to the beloved Haitian people; I hope that the spiral of violence will cease and the nation can resume the journey toward a future of peace and harmony.

Today is “Sea Sunday”, dedicated in a particular way to seafarers and to those whose source of work and sustenance is the sea. I pray for them and exhort everyone to take care of the oceans and seas. Take care of the health of the seas: no plastic in the sea!

I remember and bless those who are participating in Radio Maria Family’s pilgrimage to the Shrine of Częstochowa, today in Poland.

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Benedict, Abbot and Patron of Europe. An embrace to our protector Saint! Let us offer our good wishes to the men and women Benedictines throughout the world. And best wishes to Europe, that it be united in its founding values.

And happy Sunday to everyone! Do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch! Arrivederci!

Morele principes staan niet los van de wereld

Message at the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori Doctor Ecclesiae

Pope Francis
23 March 2021

To the Reverend Fr. Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R., Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and Moderator General of the Alphonsianum Academy

One hundred and fifty years ago, on 23 March 1871, Pius IX proclaimed Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori Doctor of the Church.

The Bull of proclamation of Saint Alphonsus as Doctor illustrates the specific nature of his moral and spiritual offering, known how to show “the sure way in the tangle of contrasting opinions of rigourism and laxity” .

One hundred and fifty years after this joyous event, the message of Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori, patron of confessors and moralists, and model for the whole of the outbound missionary Church, still vigorously indicates the high road for bringing consciences to the welcoming face of the Father, since “the salvation which God offers us is the work of his mercy” .

Listening to reality

The Alphonsian theological approach was born from listening to and accepting the weaknesses of the men and women who were most abandoned spiritually. The Holy Doctor, formed according to a rigourist moral mentality, converted to “benignity” through listening to reality.

The missionary experience in the existential peripheries of his time, the search for those far away and listening to confessions, the founding and guidance of the nascent Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and in addition the responsibilities as bishop of a particular Church, led him to become a father and maser of mercy, certain that “God’s paradise is the heart of man” .

The gradual conversion towards a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry, capable of closeness to the people, of being able to accompany their steps, to share in their real life even in the midst of great limits and challenges, drove Alphonsus to review, not without effort, even the theological and juridical grounding he had received in the years of his formation; initially marked by a certain rigour, it then turned into a merciful, dynamic approach, an evangelising dynamism able to act by attraction.

In theological disputes, preferring reason to authority, he did not stop at the theoretical formulation of principles, but rather allowed himself to be interrogated by life itself. Advocate of the least, the frail and those discarded by the society of his time, he defended the rights of all, especially the most abandoned and the poor. This approach led him to the final decision to place himself at the service of consciences that sought, even amid a thousand difficulties, the right thing to do, faithful to God’s call to holiness.

Saint Alphonsus, then, was neither lax nor strict. He was a realist in the true Christian sense, because he understood clearly that “at the very heart of the Gospel is life in community and engagement with others” .

The proclamation of the Gospel in a rapidly changing society demands the courage to listen to reality, to “educate consciences to think in a different way, in contrast to the past” .

Every pastoral action has its roots in the salvific encounter with God in life, is born of listening to life, and is nurtured by a theological reflection able to take on board the questions posed by people and to indicate viable paths. Based on the example of Alphonsus, I invite moral theologians, missionaries and confessors to enter into a living relationship with the people of God, and to look at existence from their angle, to understand the real difficulties they encounter and to help heal wounds, because only true fraternity is “capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbour, of finding God in every human being, of tolerating the nuisances of life in common by clinging to the love of God, of opening the heart to divine love and seeking the happiness of others just as their heavenly Father does” .

True to the Gospel, may Christian moral teaching called to proclaim, deepen and teach, always be a response to “the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others” (EG 39). Moral theology cannot reflect only on the formulation of principles, of rules, but needs to be proactive about the reality that exceeds any idea . This is a priority , since the mere knowledge of theoretical principles, as Saint Alphonsus himself reminds us, is not enough to accompany and sustain consciences in the discernment of the good that is to be done. It is necessary for knowledge to become practice through listening to and receiving the least, the frail and those regarded as rejects by society.

Mature consciences for an adult Church

Following the example of Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori, renewer of moral theology, it becomes desirable and therefore necessary to walk alongside, accompany and support those most deprived of spiritual aid on the path towards redemption. Evangelical radicalism should not be set against human weakness. It is always necessary to find a way that does not distance but rather brings hearts closer to God, as Alphonsus did with his spiritual and moral teaching. This is because “the great majority of the poor have a special openness to the faith; they need God and we must not fail to offer them his friendship, his blessing, his word, the celebration of the sacraments and a journey of growth and maturity in the faith. Our preferential option for the poor must mainly translate into a privileged and preferential religious care” .

Like Saint Alphonsus, we are called to go towards the people as an apostolic community that follows the Redeemer among the abandoned. This reaching out to those without spiritual aid helps to overcome the individualistic ethos and to promote a moral maturity capable of choosing the true good. By forming responsible and merciful consciences we will have an adult Church capable of responding constructively to social fragilities, in view of the kingdom of heaven.

Reaching out towards the most fragile makes it possible to combat “the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest” in which “human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded”, giving rise to the “throwaway culture”. .

In these times, society is facing countless challenges: the pandemic and work in the post-Covid world, the care that is to be guaranteed to all, the defence of life, input from artificial intelligence, the protection of creation, the anti-democratic threat, and the urgency of brotherhood. Woe to us if, in this evangelising effort, we were to separate “the cry of the poor” from “the cry of the earth” .

Alphonsus de’ Liguori, master and patron of confessors and moralists, offered constructive answers to the challenges of the society of his time, through popular evangelisation, indicating a style of moral theology capable of holding together the need for the Gospel and human fragility.

I invite you to follow the example of the Holy Doctor and to approach seriously, at the level of moral theology, “the cry of God who asks us all: ‘Where is your brother?’ (Gen 4: 9). Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved? Where is the brother and sister who you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labour?” .

Faced with epochal changes such as the present one, there is a real risk of making the rights of the strong dominant, forgetting those most in need.

The formation of consciences for good seems to be an indispensable goal for every Christian. Giving space to consciences – the place where God’s voice resounds – so that they can carry out their personal discernment in the reality of life is a formative task to which we must remain faithful. The attitude of the Samaritan (Lk 10:33-35), as I have indicated in Fratelli tutti, spurs us in this direction.

Moral theology must not be afraid to take up the cry of the least of the earth and make it its own. The dignity of the fragile is a moral duty that cannot be evaded or postponed. It is necessary to testify that right always means solidarity.

I invite you, as Saint Alphonsus did, to go towards the fragile brothers and sisters of our society. This entails the development of a moral theological reflection and pastoral action, capable of being committed to the common good, which has its root in the proclamation of the kerygma, which has a decisive role in the defence of life, towards creation and brotherhood.

On this special occasion I encourage the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and the Pontifical Alphonsianum Academy, as its expression and centre of high theological and apostolic formation, to enter into constructive dialogue with all the demands of every culture , to seek apostolic, moral and spiritual answers in favour of human fragility, in the knowledge that dialogue is marturya.

May Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori and Our Lady of Perpetual Help always be your travelling companions.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 23 March 2021.


De pandemie en de crises van de wereld

Address to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See

Pope Francis
8 February 2021

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank the Dean, His Excellency Mr George Poulides, Ambassador of Cyprus, for the kind words and good wishes he has expressed in your name, and I beg your pardon for any inconvenience caused by the cancellation of our meeting originally planned for 25 January last. I am grateful for your patience and understanding, and for accepting the invitation to be here this morning, despite the difficulties, for our traditional encounter.

Our meeting this morning takes place in the more spacious Hall of Blessings, in order to respect the need for greater personal distancing demanded by the pandemic. Yet this distancing is merely physical. Today’s meeting speaks of something very different: it is a sign of the closeness and mutual support to which the family of nations should aspire. In this time of pandemic, the need for such closeness is all the more important, for it is clear that the virus knows no barriers nor can it easily be isolated. Overcoming it is thus a duty incumbent on each of us, as well as our countries.

I am most grateful for your daily efforts to foster relations between the countries or international organizations that you represent and the Holy See. We have been able to exchange many signs of our closeness to one another in the course of these past months, thanks also to the deployment of new technologies that have enabled us to surmount the limitations imposed by the pandemic.

All of us certainly look forward to resuming personal contacts as quickly as possible, and our gathering here today is meant to be a sign of hope in this regard. I myself wish to resume my Apostolic Visits, beginning with that to Iraq scheduled for this coming March. These Visits are an important sign of the solicitude of the Successor of Peter for God’s People spread throughout the world and the dialogue of the Holy See with states. They also frequently provide an opportunity to promote, in a spirit of sharing and dialogue, good relations between the different religions. In our time, interreligious dialogue is an important component of the encounter between peoples and cultures. When it is viewed not in terms of compromising our own identity but as an occasion of mutual understanding and enrichment, dialogue can become an opportunity for religious leaders and the followers of different confessions, and can support the responsible efforts of political leaders to promote the common good.

Equally important are international agreements that foster mutual trust and enable the Church to cooperate more effectively in the spiritual and social well-being of your countries. In this regard, I would mention the exchange of instruments of ratification of the Framework Agreement between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Agreement on the legal status of the Catholic Church in Burkina Faso, as well as the signing of the Seventh Additional Agreement of the 23 June 1960 Convention Regulating Patrimonial Relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Austria. Additionally, on 22 October 2020, the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China agreed to extend for another two years the Provisional Agreement regarding the Appointment of Bishops in China, signed in Beijing in 2018. The agreement is essentially pastoral in nature, and the Holy See is confident that the process now begun can be pursued in a spirit of mutual respect and trust, and thus further contribute to the resolution of questions of common interest.

Dear Ambassadors,

The year just ended has left in its wake fear, unease and despair, as well as grief for the great loss of life. It led to a spirit of isolation and mutual suspicion that caused states to set up barriers. The interconnected world to which we have become accustomed gave way to a world once more fragmented and divided. Yet the effects of the pandemic are themselves global, touching all the countries and peoples of the world, affecting numerous aspects of our lives, and helping to aggravate “deeply interrelated crises like those of the climate, food, the economy and migration”. In light of this, I thought it fitting to establish the Vatican Covid-19 Committee, for the sake of coordinating the response of the Holy See and the entire Church to requests coming from dioceses worldwide to respond to the health crisis and the serious needs that the pandemic has brought to the fore.

From the outset, it seemed obvious that the pandemic would have a significant effect on the style of life to which we are accustomed, and on conveniences and certainties we take for granted. This led to a crisis, for it showed us the face of a world that is seriously ill, not only as a result of the virus but also in its natural environment, its economic and political processes, and even more in its human relationships. The pandemic shed light on the risks and consequences inherent in a way of life dominated by selfishness and a culture of waste, and it set before us a choice: either to continue on the road we have followed until now, or to set out on a new path.

I would like to mention briefly some of the crises that were provoked or brought to light by the pandemic, but also to consider the opportunities that they offer for the building of a more humane, just, supportive and peaceful world.

A health crisis

The pandemic forced us to confront two unavoidable dimensions of human existence: sickness and death. In doing so, it reminded us of the value of life, of every individual human life and its dignity, at every moment of its earthly pilgrimage, from conception in the womb until its natural end. It is painful, however, to note that under the pretext of guaranteeing presumed subjective rights, a growing number of legal systems in our world seem to be moving away from their inalienable duty to protect human life at every one of its phases.

The pandemic has also reminded us of the right – the right! – of each human being to dignified care, as I emphasized in my Message for the World Day of Peace celebrated on 1 January this year. For “each human person is an end in himself or herself, and never simply a means to be valued only for his or her usefulness. Persons are created to live together in families, communities and societies, where all are equal in dignity. Human rights derive from this dignity, as do human duties, like the responsibility to welcome and assist the poor, the sick, the excluded”. If we deprive the weakest among us of the right to life, how can we effectively guarantee respect for every other right?

I thus renew my appeal that every person receive the care and assistance he or she requires. To this end, it is indispensable that political and government leaders work above all to ensure universal access to basic healthcare, the creation of local medical clinics and healthcare structures that meet people’s actual needs, and the availability of treatments and medicinal supplies. Concern for profit should not be guiding a field as sensitive as that of healthcare.

It is likewise essential that the remarkable medical and scientific progress attained over the years – which made it possible to create so quickly vaccines that promise to be effective against the Coronavirus – benefit humanity as a whole. I encourage all states to contribute actively to the international efforts being made to ensure an equitable distribution of the vaccines, based not on purely economic criteria but on the needs of all, especially of peoples most in need.

Even so, before so a devious and unpredictable an enemy as Covid-19, access to vaccines must be accompanied by responsible personal behaviour aimed at halting the spread of the virus, employing the necessary measures of prevention to which we have become accustomed in these months. It would be disastrous to put our trust in the vaccine alone, as if it were a panacea exempting every individual from constant concern for his or her own health and for the health of others. The pandemic has once more shown us that, in the celebrated expression of the English poet John Donne, “no man is an island”, and that “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind”.

An environmental crisis

Nor it is just human beings who are ill. The pandemic has demonstrated once again that the earth itself is fragile and in need of care.

Certainly, there are profound differences between the health crisis resulting from the pandemic and the ecological crisis caused by the indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources. The latter is much more complex and enduring, and requires shared long-term solutions. The impact of climate change, for example, whether direct, such as the extreme weather events of flooding and drought, or indirect, such as malnutrition or respiratory disease, entail consequences that persist for a considerable time.

Overcoming these crises demands international cooperation in caring for our common home. It is thus my hope that the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to take place in Glasgow next November, will lead to effective agreement in addressing the consequences of climate change. Now is the time to act, for we are already feeling the effects of prolonged inaction.

I think, for example, of the repercussions of climate change on numerous small islands in the Pacific Ocean that are in danger of gradually disappearing. This tragedy not only causes the destruction of entire villages, but also forces local communities, especially families, to be constantly displaced, with the loss of their identity and culture. I think too of the floods in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam and the Philippines, which have caused many deaths and left entire families without means of subsistence. Nor can I fail to mention the increased warming of the earth, which has caused devastating fires in Australia and California.

In Africa too, climate change, aggravated by reckless human interventions – and now by the pandemic – is a cause of grave concern. I think particularly of food insecurity, which in the last year has especially affected Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, with millions of people suffering from hunger. In South Sudan too, there is a risk of famine and indeed a serious and persistent humanitarian emergency: over one million children are undernourished, while humanitarian corridors are often blocked and the presence of humanitarian agencies in the territory is restricted. Not least to deal with this situation, the South Sudanese authorities urgently need to overcome misunderstandings and pursue political dialogue for the sake of full national reconciliation.

An economic and social crisis

The need to contain the coronavirus has prompted many governments to adopt restrictions on freedom of movement. For several months, these have led to the closing of businesses and a general slowdown in production, with serious repercussions on companies, especially those that are medium-sized and small, on employment and consequently on the life of families and entire sectors of society, especially those that are most fragile.

The resulting economic crisis has highlighted another illness of our time: that of an economy based on the exploitation and waste of both people and natural resources. All too often, we have neglected solidarity and other values that make it possible for the economy to serve integral human development rather than particular interests. We have also lost sight of the social significance of economic activity and the universal destination of goods and resources.

The current crisis thus provides a helpful opportunity to rethink the relationship between individuals and the economy. There is need for a kind of “new Copernican revolution” that can put the economy at the service of men and women, not vice versa. In a word, “a different kind of economy: one that brings life not death, one that is inclusive and not exclusive, humane and not dehumanizing, one that cares for the environment and does not despoil it”.

To cope with the negative consequences of this crisis, many governments have prepared various initiatives and allocated substantial funding. Yet, not infrequently, attempts have been made to seek local solutions to a problem that is in fact global. Today, more than ever, we can no longer think of acting simply by ourselves. Common and shared initiatives are also needed at the international level, especially to support employment and to protect the poorest sectors of the population. I consider to be significant in this regard the commitment of the European Union and its member states. Despite difficulties, they have been able to demonstrate that it is possible to work diligently to reach satisfactory compromises for the benefit of all citizens. The allocation of funds proposed by the Next Generation EU recovery plan can serve as a meaningful example of how cooperation and the sharing of resources in a spirit of solidarity are not only desirable but also achievable goals.

In many parts of the world, the crisis has predominantly affected those working informally, who were the first to see their livelihood vanish. Living outside of the formal economy, they lack access to social safety nets, including unemployment insurance and health care provision. Driven by desperation, many have sought other forms of income and risk being exploited through illegal or forced labour, prostitution and various criminal activities, including human trafficking.

Every human being, on the other hand, has the right to enjoy the “means necessary for the proper development of life”, and must be given the means to do so. Indeed, economic stability must be ensured for all, so as to avoid the scourge of exploitation and to combat the usury and corruption that afflict many countries in the world, together with the many other injustices that occur daily under the weary and distracted gaze of our contemporary society.

The increased amount of time spent at home has also led to greater isolation as people pass longer hours before computers and other media, with serious consequences for the more vulnerable, particularly the poor and the unemployed. They become easier prey for cybercrime in its most dehumanizing aspects, including fraud, trafficking in persons, the exploitation of prostitution, including child prostitution, and child pornography.

The closing of borders due to the pandemic, combined with the economic crisis, have also aggravated a number of humanitarian emergencies, both in conflict areas and in regions affected by climate change and drought, as well as in refugee and migrant camps. I think especially of Sudan, where thousands of people fleeing the Tigray region have sought refuge, as well as other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, or in the Cabo Delgado region in Mozambique, where many have been forced to leave their own lands and now find themselves in highly precarious conditions. My thoughts also turn to Yemen and beloved Syria, where, in addition to other serious emergencies, a large part of the population experiences food insecurity and children are suffering from malnutrition.

In various cases, humanitarian crises are aggravated by economic sanctions, which, more often than not, affect mainly the more vulnerable segments of the population rather than political leaders. While understanding the reasons for imposing sanctions, the Holy See does not view them as effective, and hopes that they will be relaxed, not least to improve the flow of humanitarian aid, especially medicines and healthcare equipment, so very necessary in this time of pandemic.

May the current situation likewise be a catalyst for forgiving, or at least reducing, the debt that burdens the poorer countries and effectively prevents their recovery and full development.

Last year also witnessed a further increase in migrants who, as a result of the closing of borders, had to resort to ever more dangerous travel routes. This massive flow also met with a growing number of illegal refusals of entry, frequently employed to prevent migrants from seeking asylum, in violation of the principle of non-refusal (non-refoulement). Many of those who did not die while crossing seas and other natural borders were intercepted and returned to holding and detention camps, where they endure torture and human rights violations.

Humanitarian corridors, implemented in the course of the last years, surely help to confront some of these problems and have saved many lives. Yet the scope of the crisis makes it all the more urgent to address at their roots the reasons that cause individuals to migrate. It also demands a common effort to support the countries of first welcome that assume the moral duty to save human lives. In this regard, we look forward to the negotiation of the European Union’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum, while noting that concrete policies and mechanisms will not work unless they are supported by the necessary political will and commitment of all parties involved, including civil society and migrants themselves.

The Holy See appreciates every effort made to assist migrants and supports the commitment of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), presently celebrating the seventieth anniversary of its foundation, in full respect for the values expressed in its Constitution and of the culture of the member states in which the Organization works. Likewise, the Holy See, as a member of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), remains faithful to the principles laid down in the Geneva Convention of 1951 on the status of refugees and in the Protocol of 1967, both of which set forth the legal definition of refugees, their rights and the legal obligation of states to protect them.

Since the aftermath of the Second World War, our world has not experienced this dramatic an increase in the number of refugees. Consequently, there is an urgent need for renewed commitment to protect them, together with internally displaced persons and the many vulnerable people forced to flee from persecution, violence, conflicts and wars. In this regard, despite the important efforts made by the United Nations in seeking solutions and concrete proposals to address in a consistent manner the issue of forced displacement, the Holy See expresses its deep concern over the situation of displaced persons in different areas of the world. I think primarily of the central region of the Sahel where, in less than two years, the number of internally displaced persons has increased twentyfold.

A crisis of politics

The critical issues that I have just mentioned highlight a much deeper crisis, which in some way lies at the root of the others, and whose dramatic force was highlighted precisely by the pandemic. I refer to the crisis of politics that has been affecting many societies for some time and whose painful effects emerged during the pandemic.

One of the hallmarks of this crisis is the increase in political conflicts and the difficulty, if not actually the inability, to seek common and shared solutions to the problems afflicting our world. This has been a growing trend, one that is becoming more and more widespread also in countries with a long tradition of democracy. Vitalizing democracies is a challenge in the present historic moment, one that directly affects all states, whether small or large, economically advanced or in the process of development. In these days, my thoughts turn particularly to the people of Myanmar, to whom I express my affection and closeness. The path to democracy undertaken in recent years was brusquely interrupted by last week’s coup d’état. This has led to the imprisonment of different political leaders, who I hope will be promptly released as a sign of encouragement for a sincere dialogue aimed at the good of the country.

For that matter, as Pope Pius XII stated in his memorable Radio Message of Christmas 1944: “To express their own views of the duties and sacrifices that are imposed on them, and not be compelled to obey without being heard – these are two rights of citizens which find in democracy, as its name implies, their expression”. Democracy is based on mutual respect, on the possibility that each person can contribute to the good of society, and on the consideration that different opinions do not threaten the power and security of states, but through honest debate mutually enrich them and enable them to find more suitable solutions to pressing problems. The democratic process calls for pursuing the path of inclusive, peaceful, constructive and respectful dialogue among all the components of civil society in every city and nation. The events that in various ways and contexts, from East to West, have marked this past year also, as I mentioned, in countries with a long democratic tradition, have made clear how inescapable is this challenge, and how we cannot avoid the moral and social duty to address it positively. The development of a democratic consciousness demands that emphasis on individual personalities be overcome and that respect for the rule of law prevail. Indeed, law is the indispensable prerequisite for the exercise of all power and must be guaranteed by the responsible governing bodies, regardless of dominant political interests.

Sad to say, the crisis of politics and of democratic values is reflected also on the international level, with repercussions on the entire multilateral system and the obvious consequence that Organizations designed to foster peace and development – on the basis of law and not on the “law of the strongest” – see their effectiveness compromised. To be sure, we cannot ignore that the multilateral system has also, in recent years, shown some limitations. The pandemic is a precious opportunity to devise and implement structural reforms so that international Organizations can rediscover their essential vocation to serve the human family by protecting individual lives and peace.

One of the signs of the crisis of politics is precisely the frequently encountered reluctance to undertake paths of reform. We must not be afraid of reforms, even if they require sacrifices and often a change in our way of thinking. Every living body constantly needs to be reformed, and the reforms taking place in the Holy See and the Roman Curia also fit into this perspective.

In any case, there are a number of encouraging signs, such as the entry into force, a few days ago, of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the extension for another five-year period of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (“New START”) between the Russian Federation and the United States of America. As I noted in my recent Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti, “if we take into consideration the principal threats to peace and security with their many dimensions in this multipolar world of the twenty-first century… not a few doubts arise regarding the inadequacy of nuclear deterrence as an effective response to such challenges”. In fact, “a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples” is not sustainable.

Efforts in the area of disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons that, despite difficulties and reluctance, must be intensified, should also be carried out with regard to chemical and conventional weapons. Our world has too many weapons! As Saint John XXIII observed in 1963, “justice, right reason, and the recognition of human dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race. The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round and simultaneously by the parties concerned”. As violence increases at every level with the proliferation of weapons, and we see around us a world torn by wars and divisions, we feel an ever greater need for peace, a peace that “is not only the absence of war, but rather a life rich in meaning, rooted in and lived through personal fulfilment and fraternal sharing with others”.

How I wish that 2021 may be the year when the conflict in Syria, begun ten years ago, can finally end! For this to happen, renewed interest is needed also on the part of the international community to address the causes of the conflict with honesty and courage and to seek solutions whereby all, regardless of ethnic and religious affiliation, can contribute as citizens to the future of the country.

My desire for peace obviously extends to the Holy Land. Mutual trust between Israelis and Palestinians must be the basis for renewed direct dialogue between the parties aimed at resolving a conflict that has gone on all too long. I urge the international community to support and facilitate such direct dialogue, without presuming to dictate solutions that would not be aimed at the good of all. Palestinians and Israelis – of this I am sure – share the desire to dwell in peace.

I also express my hope for renewed political commitment, both national and international, to fostering the stability of Lebanon, which is experiencing an internal crisis and risks losing its identity and finding itself caught up even more in regional tensions. It is most necessary that the country maintain its unique identity, not least to ensure a pluralistic, tolerant and diversified Middle East in which the Christian community can make its proper contribution and not be reduced to a minority in need of protection. Christians, with their many educational, health and charitable works, are an intrinsic part of Lebanon’s historical and social fabric, and they must be guaranteed the possibility of continuing their efforts for the good of the country, of which they were founders. A weakening of the Christian presence risks destroying internal equilibrium and the very reality of Lebanon. In this regard, the presence of Syrian and Palestinian refugees must be also addressed. Moreover, without an urgently needed process of economic recovery and reconstruction, the country risks bankruptcy, with the possible effect of a dangerous drift towards fundamentalism. It is therefore necessary for all political and religious leaders to set aside their personal interests and to commit themselves to pursuing justice and implementing real reforms for the good of their fellow citizens, acting transparently and taking responsibility for their actions.

I likewise express my hope for peace in Libya, itself also devastated by a lengthy conflict, and I trust that the recent “Libyan Political Dialogue Forum”, held in Tunisia last November under the aegis of the United Nations, will effectively permit the inauguration of the country’s long-awaited process of reconciliation.

Other areas of the world are also a cause for concern. I am referring first of all to the political and social tensions in the Central African Republic and to those affecting Latin America in general, which are rooted in profound inequalities, injustices and poverty that offend the dignity of persons. I also follow with particular attention the deterioration of relations in the Korean Peninsula, which culminated in the destruction of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, and the situation in the South Caucasus, where several conflicts continue to smoulder, some of which flared up in the past year, undermining the stability and security of the entire region.

Finally, I cannot fail to mention another serious scourge of our time: terrorism, which every year kills numerous victims among defenseless civilians throughout the world. Terrorism is an evil that has been growing since the seventies of the last century, culminating in the attacks that took place in the United States of America on 11 September 2001 that killed nearly three thousand people. Tragically, the number of terrorist attacks has intensified in the last twenty years, affecting various countries on every continent. I think of terrorist attacks above all in sub-Saharan Africa, but also in Asia and Europe. My thoughts turn to all the victims and their families, who have lost their loved ones to blind violence motivated by ideological distortions of religion. For that matter, the targets of these attacks are often precisely places of worship where believers are gathered in prayer. In this regard, I would like to stress that the protection of places of worship is a direct consequence of the defence of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and is a duty incumbent upon the civil authorities, regardless of their political persuasion or religious affiliation.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I come to the end of these considerations, I would like to focus on one last crisis, which is perhaps the most serious of all: the crisis of human relationships, as the expression of a general anthropological crisis, dealing with the very conception of the human person and his or her transcendent dignity.

The pandemic, which forced us to endure long months of isolation and often loneliness, has brought out the need of every individual for human relationships. I think before all else of those students who were unable to attend school or university regularly. “Attempts have been made everywhere to offer a rapid response through online educational platforms. These have brought to light a marked disparity in educational and technological opportunities, but they have also made us realize that, due to the lockdown and many other already existing needs, large numbers of children and adolescents have fallen behind in the natural process of schooling”. Furthermore, the increase in distance learning has also led to a greater dependence of children and adolescents on the internet and on virtual forms of communication in general, making them all the more vulnerable and overexposed to online criminal activities.

We are witnessing a sort of “educational catastrophe” – let me repeat this: a kind of educational catastrophe – to which we must react for the sake of generations to come and for society as a whole. “Today, there is need for a renewed commitment to an education that engages society at every level”. Education is, in fact, “a natural antidote to the individualistic culture that at times degenerates into a true cult of the self and the primacy of indifference. Our future cannot be one of division, impoverishment of thought, imagination, attentiveness, dialogue and mutual understanding”.

At the same time, long periods of lockdown have also made it possible for families to spend more time together. For many of them, it was an important opportunity to renew their deepest relationships. Marriage and family “constitute one of the most precious of human values” and the foundation of every civil society. The great Pope Saint John Paul II, the centenary of whose birth we commemorated last year, noted in his insightful teachings on the family that, “nowadays, given the global dimension of various social questions, the family has seen its role in the development of society expanded in a completely new way… by presenting to their children a model of life based on the values of truth, freedom, justice and love”. Even so, not everybody has been able to live with serenity in his or her own home and some forms of cohabitation have degenerated and led to domestic violence. I encourage everyone, civil and public authorities, to provide support to the victims of domestic violence: unfortunately, as we all know, women, often with children, are those who pay the highest price.

The need to halt the spread of the virus has also had implications for a number of fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom, restricting public worship and the educational and charitable activities of faith communities. It must be recognized, however, that religion is a fundamental aspect of the human person and of society, and cannot be eliminated. Even as we seek ways to protect human lives from the spread of the virus, we cannot view the spiritual and moral dimension of the human person as less important than physical health.

Freedom of worship, furthermore, is not a corollary of the freedom of assembly. It is in essence derived from the right to freedom of religion, which is the primary and fundamental human right. This right must therefore be respected, protected and defended by civil authorities, like the right to bodily and physical health. For that matter, sound care of the body can never ignore care of the soul.

In his Letter to Cangrande della Scala, Dante Alighieri states that the purpose of his Comedy is “to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and to lead them to the state of bliss”. This is also the work of both religious and civil authorities, in their various sectors and responsibilities. The crisis in human relationships and, consequently, the other crises I have mentioned, cannot be overcome, unless we safeguard the transcendent dignity of each human person, created in the image and likeness of God.

In mentioning the great Florentine poet, the seven-hundredth anniversary of whose death occurs this year, I would also like to address a special thought to the people of Italy, who were the first in Europe to deal with the grave effects of the pandemic. I urge them not to lose heart amid the present difficulties, but to cooperate in building a society in which no one is discarded or forgotten.

Dear Ambassadors,

2021 is a time that must not be wasted. And it will not be wasted if we can work together with generosity and commitment. In this regard, I am convinced that fraternity is the true cure for the pandemic and the many evils that have affected us. Along with vaccines, fraternity and hope are, as it were, the medicine we need in today’s world.

Upon each of you and your respective countries I invoke abundant heavenly blessings, and add my prayerful good wishes that this year may be a fruitful occasion for deepening the bonds of fraternity that unite the entire human family.

Thank you!

De relatie van de zieke en verzorgverlener: vertrouwen en respect

Boodschap van de Heilige Vader Franciscus voor de 29ste Wereldziekendag 11 februari 2021

Gij hebt maar één Meester en gij zijt allen broeders (Mat. 23, 8) De vertrouwensrelatie aan de basis van de ziekenzorg

Geliefde broeders en zusters,

De viering van de 29ste Wereldziekendag op 11 februari 2021, de gedachtenis van de heilige Maagd Maria van Lourdes, is een gunstig moment om in het bijzonder aandacht te besteden aan de zieken en aan hen die de zieken bijstaan, hetzij op de voor de zorg bestemde plekken, hetzij binnen families en gemeenschappen. Mijn gedachten gaan in het bijzonder uit naar allen die over de hele wereld lijden aan de gevolgen van de pandemie van het coronavirus. Aan allen, in het bijzonder aan de armsten en gemarginaliseerden, breng ik mijn geestelijke nabijheid tot uitdrukking en ik verzeker hen van de zorg en de genegenheid van de Kerk.

1. Het thema van deze dag is geïnspireerd door de passage uit het evangelie waar Christus de schijnheiligheid bekritiseerd van hen die niet handelen naar hun woorden (vgl. Mat. 23, 1-12). Wanneer het geloof wordt gereduceerd tot onvruchtbare verbale oefeningen, zonder betrokkenheid bij de geschiedenis en de noden van de ander, dan vermindert de samenhang tussen het geloof dat men belijdt, en hoe men werkelijk leeft. Het risico is ernstig; daarom gebruikt Jezus sterke uitdrukkingen om te waarschuwen voor het gevaar af te glijden naar verafgoding van zichzelf en Hij zegt: “Gij hebt maar één Meester en gij zijt allen broeders” (v. 8).

De kritiek die Jezus richt tot degenen die “niet handelen naar hun woorden” (v. 3) is altijd en voor allen heilzaam, omdat niemand immuun is voor het kwaad van de schijnheiligheid, een zeer ernstig kwaad dat ons verhindert tot bloei te komen als kinderen van de ene Vader, geroepen als wij zijn tot een universele broederschap. Ten opzichte van de behoeftige omstandigheden van onze broeders en zusters geeft Jezus het model van gedrag dat volslagen het tegengestelde is van schijnheiligheid. Hij houdt ons voor stil te blijven staan, te luisteren, een directe en persoonlijke relatie met de ander tot stand te brengen, empathie en bewogenheid te voelen voor hem of voor haar, zich zo laten betrekken bij zijn of haar lijden dat men zich in dienstbaarheid hiermee belast (vgl. Luc. 10, 30-35).

2. De ervaring van ziekte laat ons onze kwetsbaarheid voelen en tegelijkertijd de aangeboren behoefte aan de ander. Het doet ons nog meer zien en op een duidelijke manier ervaren dat we als schepsels afhankelijk zijn van God. Wanneer wij ziek zijn, doordringen onzekerheid, angst en soms verbijstering onze geest en ons hart ; wij bevinden ons in een situatie van machteloosheid, omdat onze gezondheid niet afhangt van onze vermogens of van ons “tobben” (vgl. Mat. 6, 27).

Ziekte dwingt tot een zinvraag. die in geloof tot God wordt gericht: een vraag die een nieuwe betekenis en richting zoekt voor het bestaan en die soms niet onmiddellijk een antwoord kan vinden. Vrienden en verwanten zelf zijn niet altijd in staat ons bij dit moeizame zoeken te helpen.

Symbolisch is in deze de bijbelse figuur van Job. Zijn vrouw en vrienden slagen er niet in hem in zijn tegenspoed te begeleiden, integendeel, zij beschuldigen hem en vergroten zo zijn eenzaamheid en ontreddering. Job zinkt weg in een toestand van verlatenheid en onbegrip. Maar juist door deze uiterste kwetsbaarheid heen, doordat hij iedere schijnheiligheid afwijst en kiest voor de weg van oprechtheid jegens God en de ander, richt hij met volharding zijn vraag tot God, die hem uiteindelijk antwoord geeft en voor hem een nieuwe horizon opent. God bevestigt hem dat zijn lijden geen straf of kastijding is, en evenmin een verwijdering van God of een teken van zijn onverschilligheid. Zo ontspringt aan het gewonde en genezen hart van Job die geestdriftige en bewogen verklaring aan de Heer: “Alleen van horen zeggen kende ik U, nu heb ik U gezien met eigen ogen” (42, 5).

3. Ziekte heeft altijd meer dan één gezicht: zij heeft het gezicht van iedere zieke, ook van degenen die zich veronachtzaamd, buitengesloten, slachtoffers van maatschappelijk onrecht voelen, onrecht dat hun wezenlijke rechten negeert (vgl. encycl. Fratelli tutti). De huidige pandemie heeft veel onvolkomenheden van het zorgstelsel en gebreken in de ziekenzorg naar boven doen komen. Voor de ouderen, de zwaksten en kwetsbaarsten is toegang tot de zorg niet altijd op een eerlijke manier gewaarborgd. Dat hangt af van politieke keuzes, van de manier waarop de middelen worden beheerd en de inzet van degenen die hiervoor verantwoordelijkheid dragen Middelen investeren in de zorg en het bijstaan van zieken is een prioriteit die verband houdt met het principe dat gezondheid een primair gemeenschappelijk goed is. Tegelijkertijd heeft de pandemie ook de toewijding naar voren doen komen van de werkers in de gezondheidszorg, de vrijwilligers, personeel, priesters, religieuzen, die met professionaliteit, opofferingsgezindheid, gevoel voor verantwoordelijkheid en liefde voor de naaste zoveel zieken en hun familieleden hebben geholpen, verzorgd, getroost en gediend. Een stille schare van mannen en vrouwen die ervoor kozen naar die gezichten te kijken en zich daarbij belast hebben met het lijden van patiënten die zij als hun naaste beschouwen omdat ze deel uitmaken van de menselijke familie.

Nabijheid is immers een kostbare balsem, die steun en troost geeft aan wie aan een ziekte lijdt. Als christenen ervaren wij het nabij zijn als een uitdrukking van de liefde van Jezus Christus, de barmhartige Samaritaan, die met medelijden ieder menselijk wezen, gewond door de zonde, nabij is gekomen. Door de werking van de Heilige Geest met Hem verenigd, zijn wij geroepen om barmhartig te zijn zoals de Vader en in het bijzonder onze zieke, zwakke en lijdende broeders en zusters lief te hebben (vgl. Joh. 13, 34-35). En wij ervaren deze nabijheid niet alleen persoonlijk, maar ook gemeenschappelijk: broederlijke liefde in Christus brengt immers een gemeenschap voort die in staat is tot genezing, die niemand in de steek laat, die vooral de meest kwetsbaren insluit en opneemt.

Ik wil hierbij herinneren aan het belang van de broederlijke solidariteit, die concreet tot uitdrukking komt in de dienstbaarheid en die zeer verschillende vormen kan aannemen, die alle zijn gericht op de ondersteuning van de naaste. “Dienen betekent zorg dragen voor hen die kwetsbaar zijn in onze families, in onze maatschappij, in ons volk” (Homilie in Havana, 20 september 2015). Bij deze inzet is ieder in staat “zijn behoeften en verwachtingen, zijn verlangens van almacht ten overstaan van de concrete blik van de kwetsbaarsten opzij te zetten. […] De dienstbaarheid kijkt altijd naar het gezicht van een broeder of zuster, raakt zijn of haar vlees aan, voelt zijn of haar nabijheid en “lijdt” zelfs “hieronder” en zoekt naar een ondersteuning van die broeder of zuster. Daarom is dienstbaarheid nooit ideologisch, omdat zij geen ideeën, maar personen dient” (ibid.).

4. Wil er sprake zijn van een goede therapie, dan is het relationele aspect doorslaggevend, waardoor men de zieke persoon holistisch kan benaderen. Dit aspect op zijn juiste waarde schatten helpt ook artsen, verpleegkundigen, professionals en vrijwilligers in de zorg voor hen die lijden, om hen te begeleiden in een traject van genezing dankzij een vertrouwensrelatie tussen personen (vgl. “Nieuw Handvest voor Werkers in de Gezondheidszorg [2020], 4). Het gaat er dus om een verbond te sluiten tussen degenen die zorg nodig hebben, en hen die hen verzorgen; een band die gebaseerd is op wederzijds vertrouwen en respect, oprechtheid, beschikbaarheid, zodat iedere defensieve barrière wordt overwonnen, de waardigheid van de zieke centraal staat, de professionaliteit van de werkers in de gezondheid wordt beschermd en een goede verhouding met de familieleden van de patiënten wordt onderhouden.

Juist deze relatie met een zieke persoon vindt een onuitputtelijke bron van motivatie en kracht in de liefde van Christus, zoals het duizendjarige getuigenis laat zien van mannen en vrouwen die zich in het dienen van de zieken geheiligd hebben Uit het mysterie van de dood en de verrijzenis van Christus komt in feite de liefde voort die in staat is ten volle betekenis te geven aan de toestand van de patiënt, en aan die van degene die de zorg voor hem op zich neemt. Het evangelie laat vaak zien dat de door Jezus bewerkte genezingen nooit magische gebaren zijn, maar altijd de vrucht van een ontmoeting, van een relatie tussen personen, en aan de door Jezus geschonken gave van God het geloof van de ontvanger beantwoordt, zoals het woord dat Jezus vaak herhaalt, samenvat: “Uw geloof heeft u gered”.

5. Geliefde broeders en zusters, het gebod van de liefde, dat Jezus zijn leerlingen heeft nagelaten, vindt ook een concrete verwezenlijking in de relatie met de zieken. Een maatschappij is des te humaner naarmate zij meer de zorg op zich weet te nemen voor haar kwetsbare en lijdende leden en dit weet te doen met een door broederlijke liefde geïnspireerde doeltreffendheid. Laten wij dit nastreven en ervoor zorgen dat niemand alleen blijft, dat niemand zich buitengesloten en in de steek gelaten voelt.

Ik vertrouw alle zieken, werkers in de gezondheidszorg en hen die zich geheel inzetten aan de zijde van de lijdenden, toe aan Maria, Moeder van barmhartigheid en Heil van de zieken. Moge zij vanuit de grot van Lourdes en haar ontelbare, over de wereld verspreide heiligdommen ons geloof en onze hoop ondersteunen en ons helpen met broederlijke liefde voor elkaar te zorgen. Ik verleen allen en ieder van harte mijn zegen.

Rome, Sint Jan van Lateranen, 20 december 2020, vierde zondag van de Advent.

Vertaling: drs. H.M.G. Kretzers
Eindredactie. A. Kruse, MA
Copyright: Liberia Editrice Vaticana/SRKK

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the XXIX World Day of the Sick 2021

“You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8). A trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick

Dear brothers and sisters,

The celebration of the XXIX World Day of the Sick on 11 February 2021, the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities. We think in particular of those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, the effects of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. To all, and especially to the poor and the marginalized, I express my spiritual closeness and assure them of the Church’s loving concern.

1. The theme of this Day is drawn from the Gospel passage in which Jesus criticizes the hypocrisy of those who fail to practise what they preach (cf. Mt 23:1-12). When our faith is reduced to empty words, unconcerned with the lives and needs of others, the creed we profess proves inconsistent with the life we lead. The danger is real. That is why Jesus uses strong language about the peril of falling into self-idolatry. He tells us: “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (v. 8).

Jesus’ criticism of those who “preach but do not practise” (v. 3) is helpful always and everywhere, since none of us is immune to the grave evil of hypocrisy, which prevents us from flourishing as children of the one Father, called to live universal fraternity.

Before the needs of our brothers and sisters, Jesus asks us to respond in a way completely contrary to such hypocrisy. He asks us to stop and listen, to establish a direct and personal relationship with others, to feel empathy and compassion, and to let their suffering become our own as we seek to serve them (cf. Lk 10:30-35).

2. The experience of sickness makes us realize our own vulnerability and our innate need of others. It makes us feel all the more clearly that we are creatures dependent on God. When we are ill, fear and even bewilderment can grip our minds and hearts; we find ourselves powerless, since our health does not depend on our abilities or life’s incessant worries (cf. Mt 6:27).

Sickness raises the question of life’s meaning, which we bring before God in faith. In seeking a new and deeper direction in our lives, we may not find an immediate answer. Nor are our relatives and friends always able to help us in this demanding quest.

The biblical figure of Job is emblematic in this regard. Job’s wife and friends do not accompany him in his misfortune; instead, they blame him and only aggravate his solitude and distress. Job feels forlorn and misunderstood. Yet for all his extreme frailty, he rejects hypocrisy and chooses the path of honesty towards God and others. He cries out to God so insistently that God finally answers him and allows him to glimpse a new horizon. He confirms that Job’s suffering is not a punishment or a state of separation from God, much less as sign of God’s indifference. Job’s heart, wounded and healed, then makes this vibrant and touching confession to the Lord: “I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you” (42:5).

3. Sickness always has more than one face: it has the face of all the sick, but also those who feel ignored, excluded and prey to social injustices that deny their fundamental rights (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 22). The current pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in our healthcare systems and exposed inefficiencies in the care of the sick. Elderly, weak and vulnerable people are not always granted access to care, or in an equitable manner. This is the result of political decisions, resource management and greater or lesser commitment on the part of those holding positions of responsibility. Investing resources in the care and assistance of the sick is a priority linked to the fundamental principle that health is a primary common good. Yet the pandemic has also highlighted the dedication and generosity of healthcare personnel, volunteers, support staff, priests, men and women religious, all of whom have helped, treated, comforted and served so many of the sick and their families with professionalism, self-giving, responsibility and love of neighbour. A silent multitude of men and women, they chose not to look the other way but to share the suffering of patients, whom they saw as neighbours and members of our one human family.

Such closeness is a precious balm that provides support and consolation to the sick in their suffering. As Christians, we experience that closeness as a sign of the love of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan, who draws near with compassion to every man and woman wounded by sin. United to Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be merciful like the Father and to love in particular our frail, infirm and suffering brothers and sisters (cf. Jn 13:34-35). We experience this closeness not only as individuals but also as a community. Indeed, fraternal love in Christ generates a community of healing, a community that leaves no one behind, a community that is inclusive and welcoming, especially to those most in need.

Here I wish to mention the importance of fraternal solidarity, which is expressed concretely in service and can take a variety of forms, all directed at supporting our neighbours. “Serving means caring … for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people” (Homily in Havana, 20 September 2015). In this outreach, all are “called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, before the concrete gaze of those who are most vulnerable… Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, ‘suffers’ that closeness and tries to help them. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people” (ibid.).

4. If a therapy is to be effective, it must have a relational aspect, for this enables a holistic approach to the patient. Emphasizing this aspect can help doctors, nurses, professionals and volunteers to feel responsible for accompanying patients on a path of healing grounded in a trusting interpersonal relationship (cf. New Charter for Health Care Workers [2016], 4). This creates a covenant between those in need of care and those who provide that care, a covenant based on mutual trust and respect, openness and availability. This will help to overcome defensive attitudes, respect the dignity of the sick, safeguard the professionalism of healthcare workers and foster a good relationship with the families of patients.

Such a relationship with the sick can find an unfailing source of motivation and strength in the charity of Christ, as shown by the witness of those men and women who down the millennia have grown in holiness through service to the infirm. For the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection is the source of the love capable of giving full meaning to the experience of patients and caregivers alike. The Gospel frequently makes this clear by showing that Jesus heals not by magic but as the result of an encounter, an interpersonal relationship, in which God’s gift finds a response in the faith of those who accept it. As Jesus often repeats: “Your faith has saved you”.

5. Dear brothers and sisters, the commandment of love that Jesus left to his disciples is also kept in our relationship with the sick. A society is all the more human to the degree that it cares effectively for its most frail and suffering members, in a spirit of fraternal love. Let us strive to achieve this goal, so that no one will feel alone, excluded or abandoned.

To Mary, Mother of Mercy and Health of the Infirm, I entrust the sick, healthcare workers and all those who generously assist our suffering brothers and sisters. From the Grotto of Lourdes and her many other shrines throughout the world, may she sustain our faith and hope, and help us care for one another with fraternal love. To each and all, I cordially impart my blessing.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 20 December 2020,
Fourth Sunday of Advent


De COVID pandemie en humaniteit

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

7-9 October 2020

To the Distinguished Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Meeting in Plenary Session

I offer you cordial greetings and I express my gratitude to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences for devoting this year’s Plenary Session to placing basic scientific research at the service of the health of our planet and its inhabitants, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged. I likewise greet the invited experts and leaders, all of whom have weighty international responsibilities, and I look forward to their contribution.

Before all else, I express my support for the work of the Academy, actively promoted by its President, Professor Joachim von Braun, and the Council. In these days, my interest in your work is even keener, because you have devoted this Plenary Session to what is rightly a topic of profound concern for all humanity. You are focusing on the notion of science at the service of people for the survival of humanity in light of the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic and other global issues.

In effect, the pandemic brought to light not only our false securities, but also the inability of the world’s countries to work together. For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 7). It is significant, then, that this virtual Plenary Session of the Academy brings together a number of different scientific disciplines; in this sense, it offers an example of how the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis should be addressed through coordinated efforts in the service of the entire human family.

Your efforts are largely concentrated on the study of new immunological and immunochemical pathways to activate the body’s own defence mechanisms or stop the proliferation of infected cells. You are also studying other specific treatments, including vaccines now being tested in clinical trials. As we know, the virus, in affecting people’s health, has also affected the entire social, economic and spiritual fabric of society, paralyzing human relationships, work, manufacturing, trade and even many spiritual activities. It has an enormous impact on education. In many parts of the world, great numbers of children are unable to return to school, and this situation runs the risk of an increase in child labour, exploitation, abuse and malnutrition. In short, being unable to see a person’s face and considering other people as potential carriers of the virus is a terrible metaphor of a global social crisis that must be of concern to all who have the future of humanity at heart.

In this regard, none of us can fail to be concerned for the impact of the crisis on the world’s poor. For many of them, the question is indeed one of survival itself. Together with the contribution of the sciences, the needs of the poorer members of our human family cry out for equitable solutions on the part of governments and all decision makers. Healthcare systems, for example, need to become much more inclusive and accessible to the disadvantaged and those living in low-income countries. If anyone should be given preference, let it be the neediest and most vulnerable among us. Similarly, when vaccines become available, equitable access to them must be ensured regardless of income, always starting with the least. The global problems we face demand cooperative and multilateral responses. International organizations such as the UN, WHO, FAO and others, which were established to foster global cooperation and coordination, should be respected and supported so that they can achieve their goals for the sake of the universal common good.

The eruption of the pandemic, within the broader context of global warming, the ecological crisis and the dramatic loss of biodiversity, represents a summons to our human family to rethink its course, to repent and to undertake an ecological conversion (cf. Laudato Si’, 216-221). A conversion that draws on all our God-given gifts and talents in order to promote a “human ecology” worthy of our innate dignity and common destiny. This is the hope I expressed in my recent Encyclical Fratelli Tutti on fraternity and social friendship. “How wonderful it would be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation could come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, even as we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters who orbit around us!” (No. 31).

The reflections of your Plenary Session on the sciences and the survival of humanity also raise the issue of similar scenarios that could originate in the most advanced laboratories of the physical and biological sciences. May we remain quiet in the face of such prospects? As great as the responsibility of politicians may be, it does not exempt scientists from acknowledging their own ethical responsibilities in the effort to halt not only the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons, but also the development of biological weapons, with their potential to devastate innocent civilians and indeed, entire peoples.

Dear friends, once again, I thank you for your research and your efforts to confront these grave issues in a spirit of cooperation and shared responsibility for the future of our societies. In these months, the entire world has depended on you and your colleagues to provide information, to instil hope and, in the case of countless medical professionals, to care for the sick and the suffering, often at the risk of their own lives. In renewing my own gratitude and offering my prayerful good wishes for the deliberations of your Plenary Session, I invoke upon you, your families and your associates God’s blessings of wisdom, strength and peace. And I ask you, please, to remember me in your prayers.

Rome, from Saint John Lateran, 7 October 2020

Geneesmiddelen en vaccins voor iedereen

Address of his Holiness Pope Francis to the members of the “Banco Farmaceutico” Foundation

19 September 2020

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Welcome! I would like to thank the president of the Banco Farmaceutico for his kind words. As he reminded me, this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the birth of Banco Farmaceutico: best wishes! From that initial intuition, we have come a long way. As well as being present in Italy, you also operate in other countries.

Those who live in poverty are poor in everything, even medicines, and therefore their health is more vulnerable. Sometimes they run the risk of not being able to obtain treatment because of lack of money, or because some people in the world do not have access to certain medicines. There is also a “pharmaceutical marginality”, and this must be said. This creates a further gap between nations and between peoples. On an ethical level, if there is the possibility of curing a disease with a drug, it should be available to everyone, otherwise it creates injustice. Too many people, too many children are still dying in the world because they are denied access to a drug that is available in other regions, or a vaccine. We know the danger of the globalisation of indifference. Instead, I propose to globalise treatment, that is, the possibility of access to those drugs that could save so many lives for all populations. And to do this takes a joint effort, a convergence that involves everyone. And you are the example of this joint effort.

I hope that scientific research can make progress in seeking new solutions to problems old and new. The work of many researchers is valuable and represents a magnificent example of how human study and intelligence are able to develop, as far as possible, new paths of healing and cure.

Pharmaceutical companies, by supporting research and directing production, can generously contribute to a more equitable distribution of medicines.

Pharmacists are called upon to provide a service of care close to those most in need, and in science and conscience they work for the integral good of those who turn to them.

Through their legislative and financial choices, governments are also called upon to build a fairer world in which the poor are not abandoned or, worse still, discarded.

The recent experience of the pandemic, in addition to a major health emergency in which almost one million people have already died, is turning into a serious economic crisis, which still results in poor people and families who do not know how to move forward. While charitable assistance is being provided, it is also a question of combating this pharmaceutical poverty, particularly with the widespread use of new vaccines in the world. I repeat that it would be sad if, in providing the vaccine, priority were given to the wealthiest, or if this vaccine became the property of this or that country, and was no longer for everyone. It must be universal, for all.

Dear friends, thank you very much for your service to the weakest. Thank you for what you do. The Medicine Collection Day is an important example of how generosity and the sharing of goods can improve our society and bear witness to that love in the neighbourliness that the Gospel requires of us (cf. Jn 13:34). I bless all of you present here, and your families. I bless and ask God to bless all of you who, as the president said, are of different religions. But God is the Father of all, and I ask: God, bless all of you, your families, your work, your generosity. And, because priests always ask, I ask you to pray for me. Thank you.

Iedere patiënt is een menselijke persoon

Address to the International Gynaecologic Cancer Society

Pope Francis
11 September 2020

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning! I offer you a cordial welcome on the occasion of the annual Meeting of the International Gynaecologic Cancer Society. Your visit affords me an opportunity to acknowledge with esteem the work of your association in caring for women suffering from complex and distressing diseases. I thank your President, Professor Roberto Angioli, for his kind words of welcome and for arranging this encounter.

I am also pleased to welcome the representatives of the various associations, especially those of former patients, which offer a setting for mutual sharing and support. In providing this valuable service, you show how important it is to forge bonds of solidarity and support between patients suffering from serious pathologies, their family members and medical personnel. This becomes all the more important when it has to do with illnesses that can impair or eliminate fertility and the possibility of motherhood. In those situations, which so greatly impact women’s lives, profound sensitivity and respect for the well-being of each patient – psychological, relational, spiritual – must constantly be shown.

For this reason, I can only encourage your efforts to concentrate on these aspects of the integral care of patients, also in cases where treatment is essentially palliative. The involvement of other persons who can support the patient by offering trust, hope and love is likewise important. We all know – as has been shown – that good relationships help and encourage the sick at every stage of care, rekindling and deepening their hope. It is exactly that loving closeness that opens the door to hope and thus to healing.

Every patient is a person and, as such, is defined by much more than his or her clinical data. When a sick person senses that he or she is being treated as a unique person – and you can surely confirm this from your experience – the result is greater confidence in the medical team and greater hope for a positive outcome.

I trust, as I am certain you do, that these values will not remain merely an ideal, but will be increasingly recognized within healthcare systems. It is often stated, and rightly so, that a good relationship with healthcare personnel is itself part of the cure. What a great benefit it is for the sick to have an opportunity to open their hearts freely and speak to others about their condition and needs! But also to be able to shed tears, knowing that they will be understood. This opens new horizons and assists healing, or in cases of terminal illness, provides encouragement and support.

Yet, important as this is, can it realistically happen in hospital environments that are strongly conditioned by functional needs? Here I must observe with regret that the human dimension of the care of the sick is all too often left to the kindness of the individual physician rather than being considered, as it should be, an integral part of the services offered by healthcare facilities.

Financial concerns should not be allowed to dominate the field of healthcare to the point where such essential aspects as building relationships with patients are overlooked. In this regard, praise is due to the various non-profit organizations that place patients at the centre, assisting with their needs, responding to their legitimate questions and enabling those who, due to the fragility of their personal, economic and social condition, cannot make their voices heard.

Research, of course, demands significant financial resources. Yet I am confident that a sound balance between these various factors can be achieved. Even so, priority must always be given to people, in this case, women suffering from serious illnesses, but also – let us not forget – to the personnel who deal with them daily to ensure that they can carry out their work in dignified conditions. But also that they have time to rest and regain their energy and strength.

I encourage you to make known the important results of your studies and research for the sake of the women for whom you care. Amid their difficulties, they help us to remember aspects of life that we sometimes forget, such as the precariousness of our existence, our need for one another, the vanity of self-centredness, and the reality of death as part of life itself. Sickness reminds us of the decisive attitude for every human being, namely, our need to entrust ourselves: to others who are our brothers and sisters, and to the Other who is our heavenly Father. It also reminds us of the importance of closeness, of our need to be neighbours to one another, as Jesus taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37). At the right time, what healing can a caress bring! You know that better than I.

Dear friends, I offer you my prayerful good wishes for your work. Upon you and your families, your associates and all those for whom you care, I invoke God’s blessing. I bless all of you whatever your faith or religious tradition. God is the same for all. I bless all of you and I invoke God’s blessing, source of wisdom, strength and interior peace. I assure you of my prayers and – they say priests always do this! – I conclude by asking your prayers for me because I need them. Thank you.

Leven na de pandemie

Een verzameling interventies van Paus Franciscus, waarin hij ons zijn visie geeft op de wereld die opkomt na de pandemie en die we moeten vergezellen.

Lees de volledige tekst van Paus Franciscus

“U bent dichtbij mensen op een cruciaal moment van hun bestaan”

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to mark International Nurses Day

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we celebrate International Nurses Day, in the context of the International Year of Nurses and Midwives officially declared by the World Health Organization. At this same time, we observe the bicentennial of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing.

At this critical moment, marked by the global health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have rediscovered the fundamental importance of the role being played by nurses and midwives. Every day we witness the testimony of courage and sacrifice of healthcare workers, and nurses in particular, who, with professionalism, self-sacrifice, and a sense of responsibility and love for neighbour, assist people affected by the virus, even to the point of putting their own health at risk. Sadly, this can be seen in the high number of healthcare workers who have died as a result of their faithful service. I pray for them – the Lord knows each of them by name – and for all the victims of this epidemic. May the Risen Lord grant to each of them the light of heaven and to their families the consolation of faith.

Nurses have historically played a central role in health care. Every day, in their contact with the sick, they experience the trauma caused by suffering in people’s lives. They are men and women who have chosen to say “yes” to a very special vocation: that of being good Samaritans who are concerned for the life and suffering of others. They are guardians and preservers of life, who, even as they administer necessary treatments, offer courage, hope and trust.[1]

Dear nurses, moral responsibility is the hallmark of your professional service, which cannot be reduced to scientific-technical knowledge alone, but must be constantly inspired by your human and humanizing relationship with the sick. “Taking care of women and men, of children and elderly, in every phase of their life, from birth to death, you are tasked with continuous listening, aimed at understanding what the needs of that patient are, in the phase that he or she is experiencing. Before the uniqueness of each situation, indeed, it is never enough to follow a protocol, but a constant – and tiresome! – effort of discernment and attention to the individual person is required”.[2]

You – and here I think too of midwives – are close to people at crucial moments in their existence – birth and death, disease and healing – helping them deal with traumatic situations. Sometimes you find yourself at their side as they are dying, giving comfort and relief in their last moments. Because of your dedication, you are among the “saints next door”.[3] You are an image of the Church as a “field hospital” that continues to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ, who drew near to and healed people with all kinds of sickness and who stooped down to wash the feet of his disciples. Thank you for your service to humanity!

In many countries, the pandemic has also brought to light a number of deficiencies in the provision of health care. For this reason, I would ask leaders of nations throughout the world to invest in health care as the primary common good, by strengthening its systems and employing greater numbers of nurses, so as to ensure adequate care to everyone, with respect for the dignity of each person. It is important to recognize in an effective way the essential role your profession plays in patient care, local emergency activity, disease prevention, health promotion, and assistance in family, community and school settings.

Nurses, as well as midwives, deservedly have the right to be better and more fully valued and involved in processes concerning the health of individuals and communities. It has been shown that investing in them improves overall care and health. Their professionalism should thus be enhanced by providing suitable scientific, human, psychological and spiritual tools for their training, by improving their working conditions and by guaranteeing their rights, so that they can carry out their service in full dignity.

In this regard, associations of healthcare workers play an important role. In addition to offering comprehensive training, they support their individual members, making them feel part of a larger body, never dismayed and alone as they face the ethical, economic and human challenges that their profession entails.

I would like to say a special word to midwives who assist women in their pregnancies and help them give birth to their children. Your work is among the most noble of professions, for it is directly dedicated to the service of life and of motherhood. In the Bible, the names of two heroic midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, are immortalized in the Book of Exodus (cf. 1:15-21). Today, too, the heavenly Father looks to you with gratitude.

Dear nurses, dear midwives, may this annual celebration highlight the dignity of your work for the benefit of the health of society as a whole. With the assurance of my prayers for you, your families and those for whom you care, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.

Rome, from Saint John Lateran, 12 May 2020