Monday, 20 July 2009

Catholics and Healthcare

Anybody living in this country benefits from universal healthcare in the UK which is a wonderful blessing whatever its faults and fallings. In many Third World Countries they do not have the benefits of such universal healthcare. In many parts of the world the Church is in fact the main provider of healthcare to already poor and marginalised communities.

During a recent address to the a special conference on healthcare, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations and Specialised Institutions in Geneva, reflecting on global healthcare needs said: "The Catholic Church sponsors 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 health clinics, 15,448 homes for the elderly and disabled, and other health care programmes throughout the world, but especially in the most isolated and marginalized areas". Yet "faith-based organisations do not receive an equitable share of the resources designated to support global, national and local health initiatives", he said.

"We must be guided by the best healthcare tradition that respects and promotes the right to life from conception until natural death for all regardless of race, disability, nationality, religion, sex and socio-economic status".

As members of the Diocese set off to Lourdes for the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage we are reminded of the important ministry to the sick that the Church supports in Arundel & Brighton. It is not just through this annual pilgrimage but also through the work of chaplains and volunteers in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and private homes.

The Diocese is also grateful for the work of relgious orders who run homes and facilities for care of the sick in the Diocese. Bishop Kieran recently blessed a new Physiotherapy unit at Holy Cross Hospital which is run and owned by the Daughters of the Cross. Many other religious orders run nursing homes and carry out wonderful work with the sick. Even with universal healthcare in this country provided by the State their is still a real role for the Church in ministry to the sick and in particular supporting a more holistic, spirit-filled approach to care of those who are sick.

Jesus said: 'Imagine a sower going out to sow... some fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!' (Mt 13:2 & 19)

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