ROME – In his first public appearance since being hospitalized July 4 for intestinal surgery, Pope Francis on Sunday asked for universal access to good and affordable healthcare and also prayed for Haiti after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7.
“In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced how important good health care is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries,” Francis said in a voice that sounded a bit weak.
“A healthcare system 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,” he said.
On Haiti, Francis that his prayer has “often gone to Haiti after the assassination of the President and his wife being wounded.”
“I join the appeal of the bishops of Haiti to set weapons aside and chose life, live fraternally looking for the common good, so that the nation can begin a path to peace and concord,” Francis said. “I’m here for the dear people of Haiti and I hope that violence will cease and that the nation might be able to pick up again, a path toward a future of peace and harmony.”
Regarding health case, the pope urged Catholic institutions to prioritize facilities that offer free care.
“Also in the Church it can happen that a sanitary institution, due to a not so good administration [is not doing well], and the first solution that comes to mind is to sell it,” he said. “But your vocation in the Church is not to have private rooms, but to provide a service. A service that is always free. Save the free institutions!”
The pope’s words came at the end of the weekly Sunday Angelus prayer, which, for the first time since the beginning of his pontificate, took place from a window on the 10th floor of Rome’s Gemelli Hospital. St. John Paul II led this prayer from the same window several time throughout his papacy. Francis was surrounded by young patients, and, visibly moved, he said that the question of why do children suffer is one that “touches the heart.”
According to the Vatican’s daily statements, the 84-year-old has been steadily on the mend following his scheduled surgery to remove a portion of his large intestine. On Monday, papal spokesman Matteo Bruni had said that baring complications, the pope would remain in the hospital for seven days, so he’s expected back in Santa Marta, the residence where he lives, at some point July 12.
During the meditation before saying the Marian prayer, the pope also expressed his appreciation and encouragement to doctors and hospital staff, and asked for prayers for 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 and care.”
Whenever the pope is in Rome, he leads the faithful from a window in the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in an effort to discourage public gatherings, several of his Sunday audiences were transmitted from behind closed doors.
Mentioning that July 11 is also the Church-sponsored Sunday of the Sea, Francis prayed for those who find in the sea a “source of sustenance,” and asked for the oceans to be cared for, calling for “no plastic in the sea.”
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