Pope: For the terminally ill, incurable does not mean 'un-care-able'

A woman pushing a patient in a wheelchair is seen in this screen grab from a video from The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network. In the video, Pope Francis says people who are terminally ill and their families should always receive the care and assistance they need. For the month of February, the netword is asking Catholics to pray for those who are terminally ill. (CNS photo/ThePopeVideo.org)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) ─ People who are terminally ill and their families should always receive the care and assistance they need, Pope Francis said.

Incurable does not mean "un-care-able," the pope said in a video message from the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer, released Jan. 30.

The pope's prayer intention for the month of February is dedicated to people who are terminally ill, and in his video message, he said, "Even when little chance for a cure exists, every sick person has the right to medical, psychological, spiritual and human assistance."

"Sometimes they can't talk; sometimes we think they don't recognize us. But if we take them by the hand, we know they are relating with us," he said.

"Healing is not always possible, but we can always care for the sick person, caress them," the pope said, quoting what St. John Paul II used to say was the true task of medicine, "to cure if possible, always to care."

Pope Francis noted the role of palliative care, which "guarantees the patient not only medical attention, but also human assistance and closeness."

"Families should not be left alone in these difficult moments," he said, as "they need access to adequate means so as to provide appropriate physical, spiritual and social support."

"Let us pray that the terminally ill and their families always receive the necessary medical and human care and assistance," he said.

The Catholic Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick Feb. 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.



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