ROME – Speaking to Catholic and Muslim experts on healthcare and ethics at a conference in Qatar this Tuesday, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life said that religions should be the guardians of palliative care.
“Palliative care represents a human right and several international programs are working to make it so,” said Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in his introductory statement at the event.
“But the real human right,” he added, “is to continue to be recognized and welcomed as a member of society, as part of a community.”
The conference, titled “Muslim and Christian Perspectives in Palliative Care and End of Life,” is taking place in Doha, Qatar, Jan. 22-23 and is organized by Georgetown University in collaboration with the Academy for Life and the Wish Program at the Qatar Foundation.
“Palliative care embodies a vision of man that is guarded and promoted by the great religious traditions,” Paglia said. “Today they represent for all of us a concrete answer that takes place in a context of a shortage of love for the human being and a crisis of social ties, which from a generic disinterest is becoming a full-on social disintegration that concerns all forms of community starting from the family.”
The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), a global organization based in Qatar aimed at providing healthcare, and the Pontifical Academy for Life signed a Joint Declaration on End of Life and Palliative Care Jan. 22 promoting an integral approach to the human person.
“Two institutions of different faiths, but sharing in the duty of research, of scientific promotion and cultural development,” Paglia said, “two academic institutions that in palliative care found a fertile ground for encounter and collaboration to realize a new humanism, which benefits all persons and all people.”
The event is part of the many initiatives that the Academy has launched to promote palliative care around the world. It also answers Pope Francis’s call for the pontifical think-tank to promote “a new humanism of fraternity.”
“It’s time,” the pope wrote in a letter marking the Academy’s 25th anniversary, “for a new vision aimed at promoting a humanism of fraternity and solidarity between individuals and peoples.”
“We need to enter into the language of men and women today, making the Gospel message incarnate in their concrete experience,” the pope wrote in the letter dated Jan. 6.
In his message the pope also warned of the “state of emergency” of humanity today, which leads to division and war, and was echoed by Paglia at the conference.
“The duty to ‘care’ for one another and creation is very different for the prevaricating, predatory, destructive attitude that is often practiced by man,” the archbishop said, specifying that this behavior happens frequently not only toward the environment but especially toward those people who are considered a burden or not useful.
“The palliative care community testifies to a new way of living together, which places the person and his good at the center surrounded not just by the individual but reciprocally by the entire community,” Paglia concluded.
“In this society the good of the individual is pursued as the good for all.”