The weak force of religions at the service of the sick

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On March 29 and 30, representatives from religions from all over the world gathered together to discuss for the first time palliative care for the elderly.

The focus of the meeting, which was held in the Marconi Room of the Vatican Radio and on the premises of the PAV, was the project "Religions of the World Charter: Palliative Care for Older People."


The event involved representatives of world religions and prominent figures of the scientific community, as well as volunteers, patients, and their families.


As Silvia Lefebvre, President of the Maruzza Foundation, emphasized, palliative care is poorly understood and is erroneously considered synonymous with terminal care. This is why a workshop on the topic that also brings together religions, “has the opportunity to reach everyone and to introduce palliative care to every corner of the world."


"Religions bring down walls and help us to be united," opened Msgr. Paglia. "To them belongs the task of helping to recover the meaning of existence and especially at a moment as decisive as that which precedes death."


Many of the experts who spoke at the meeting emphasized the need to establish communication with the patient and with the patient’s family. "Palliative care," explained Suresh Kumar, director of the WHO Collaborating Center for India, "is a community effort, care that is not only medical but also psychological and social."


Unfortunately, such treatments often encounter the indifference of public opinion and a lack of preparation of healthcare professionals. It seems, therefore, that there is still much to do so that palliative care becomes a model of good care regardless of the illness.


For the Ven. Tsung-Tueng Bhilkshuni, director of the Taiwan Association of Clinical Buddhist Studies, the religious approach to palliative care highlights the importance of dialogue with the patient, in order to accompany him to and prepare him for a comfortable death.


The weak force of religions, reiterated Msgr. Paglia, is their ability to contribute to building a humane culture that is able to support and welcome the life of every person in every situation, even the weakest. "The PAV wants to be a multiplier of initiatives such as these, which take care of everyone, especially those who are marginalized and abandoned. Each person is part of creation and is responsible for himself or herself and for the whole of humanity. All this must be safeguarded with particular care, especially in moments of greatest weakness. "


Details of the event are available on Maruzza Foundation website


Link to the opening remarks of Bishop Paglia