Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, has issued a message to participants of the 21st national convention of the Catholic Nurses Guild of India.
The prelate hailed health workers as “custodians and servants of human life,” but cautioned them of the risk of becoming “agents of death” in today’s crisis of values.
Concern for the sick and suffering is “an integral part of the Church’s life and mission,” the cardinal added.
The meeting was held at the Nirmala Niketan Centre, St Pius X College in Goregaon East, Mumbai, on November 8-10. It focused on Ethical Role of Nurses in Health Promotion and Integral Human Development. More than 200 members attended.
Cardinal Gracias stressed that “To serve life is to serve God. The vocation of the Catholic nurse to care for the sick and the dying is a great responsibility and requires a special grace from God.”
Citing Evangelium Vitae (27, 89), he went on to say that “the Church has always been in the front line in providing charitable help . . . especially for the weak and needy”.
In fact, “All health care personnel which includes doctors, pharmacists, nurses, chaplains, men and women religious, administrators and volunteers, have a unique responsibility to be the guardians and servants of human life.”
Indeed, “The health care worker who stops besides a wounded person and becoming a ‘neighbor’ in charity is a Good Samaritan.”
Again, taking his cue from Pope Francis’s words to the Italian Federation of Health Professions of March 3, 2018, Card Gracias emphasized the value of nurses in the mission as promoters of the life and dignity of people.
In their daily encounters with the sick, they express tenderness and the healing power of touching at time of “a crisis of fundamental moral values and increasing threats to the life of individuals, especially of those who are weak and defenceless.
“Apart from the threat of endemic diseases, natural disasters, poverty and hunger, there are new methods of attacks on the dignity of the human person in the form of war, terrorism and brutal violence.
What is more, “In the current socio-cultural context in which we find ourselves today, we realize that science, technology and medicine are losing their inherent ethical perspective and are tempted at times to become manipulators of life or even agents of death.”
This said, the cardinal is keen to express his “sincere appreciation to all our nurses and all those involved in the health care apostolate, not only for their for their selfless and dedicated service they have provided to so many sick, suffering and dying over the years, but also for protecting and preserving the gift of human life from womb to tomb.”