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November 4, 1995

Every human life must always be defended


On Saturday, 4 November, the Holy Father received in audience members of "The Rainbow Way" and the Italian Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Associations in aid of children suffering from these usually congenital diseases. "Your commitment to these little ones as doctors, but above all as parents, witness to that love of life, which fits in well with the Christian community's mission", the Pope said. Here is a translation of his address, which was given in Italian.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am glad to welcome you and I thank you for this visit that you have wished to make at the end of your association's congress. I greet the professors of the School of Specialization in Paediatrics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, and the doctors of the paediatric clinic at the Gemelli Polyclinic who have guided the work of your convention. I then wish to express my closeness to the representatives of the FAISBI (Italian Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Associations), and in particular to the members of the "The Rainbow Way" association founded to help children affected by such pathologies.

2. The neurological, orthopaedic and urological consequences afflicting those suffering from these congenital malformations are well known to you from both the medical and human points of view. They have been at the centre of the congress reflections which have enabled you to examine thoroughly all that recent progress in scientific research offers for the proper treatment of those afflicted.

Your visit today attests to your desire to involve the Church in the concern and responsibilities attached to your work in favour of children affected by such serious pathological conditions. Your commitment to these little ones as doctors, but above all as parents, witnesses to that love of life which fits in well with the Christian community's mission. It is called to proclaim that life, every human life, is always an inviolable good to be defended, protected and encouraged in every circumstance, especially when it must be lived in the most heart-rending precariousness. If this task is valid for every human life from its beginning to its natural end, it is even more necessary to defend and protect life that is afflicted by serious infirmity.

I am thinking at this moment of you, the fathers and mothers present, and of all those who, like you, have chosen with the heroism of love, to stay beside your children who are stricken with pathologies that make their life and active involvement in society difficult.

3. Your association's aims, which include the promotion of projects in the social, health-care, medical, welfare, financial and moral sectors in aid of children affected by spina bifida and hydrocephalus and their families, thus encourage the civil community to work actively to solve these problems. Even under the pressure of contingent events or financial factors, it cannot disappoint the legitimate expectations of those who are invalids and their respective families. On the contrary, guided by that spirit of solidarity which keeps the social fabric together, it will be able to find the appropriate means to be concretely close to all those who are affected by these serious conditions and to those assisting them.

4. Dear brothers and sisters, the Gospel of suffering is closely bound in Christ to the Gospel of life. It is not limited to acknowledging the presence of suffering in the Christian proclamation, but it reveals its salvific meaning in the mission of Christ and of the Church (cf. Salvifici doloris, n. 25). With the Cross and the Resurrection, the Redeemer has restored the fullness of life to humanity. In this perspective, the Christian community cannot fail to proclaim constantly the loftiest value of human suffering lived in the light of faith in Christ. Furthermore, it is close, with affection and concrete solidarity, to all its children who are in distress and unwell.

I commend your efforts and your hopes to Mary, Mother of Christ and our Mother. May she who "began to see in her mission as a mother the 'destiny' to share, in a singular and unrepeatable way, in the very mission of her Son" (Salvifici doloris, n. 25) protect you with her intercession and her love.

With these sentiments, I impart a special Blessing to you all and especially to the children for whom you lovingly care.

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