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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pope visits with European Cardiologists

At the conclusion of the General Audience this morning in Saint Peter's Square, Pope Francis went to the site of the new Rome Fair (Fiera di Roma) where he greeted the participants taking part in the annual Congress organized by the European Society of Cardiologists.  There are approximately 35,000 participants present from 140 different countries.  The Pope arrived shortly before 12:30pm today.

Following the introductory remarks presented by Pietro Piccinetti, sole Administrator of the Fiera di Roma, greetings were offered by Professor Fausto Pinto, President of the European Society of Cardiologists.


Greetings offered by Professor Fausto Pinto
President of the European Society of Cardiologists

Your Holiness, we are extremely honoured to welcome you to the European Society of Cardiology ... at the conclusion of our scientific Congress. This annual event is the summit of cardiovascular research.  During the past five days, more than 32,000 dedicated healthcare professionals have gathered here to share the very latest medical advances in the fight against cardiovascular disease, a most formidable enemy of mankind.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death around the world. It claims the lives of more than 17 million people a year. Many more struggle to live with its debilitating effects. The European Society of Cardiology – like the Vatican – is committed to alleviating suffering and promoting healthy life styles. We share a common purpose of delivering care to those in need; of helping people live longer, healthier, more productive lives.

The European Society of Cardiology began this mission more than sixty-five years ago. We are currently a federation of fifty-six national cardiac societies, representing more than 95 000 health professionals, eager to exchange scientific knowledge and improve patient care. Today the ESC is a global society, bringing together some of the most renowned cardiovascular specialists from more than 120 different countries – men and women who are pushing the boundaries of cardiovascular medicine.

And they do this – not only at Congresses like this – but throughout the year. The European Society of Cardiology publishes twelve scientific journals; delivers continuing medical education courses, creates clinical guidelines to define the latest and best practices, and shares a vast array of international data to compare different treatments and patient outcomes.

We are making progress. But there is so much more that could be done; that must be done. In Europe alone, 1.4 million people under the age of 75 die prematurely each year from heart attacks and strokes because, in many cases, they are not getting the timely and effective healthcare they need. 1.4 million people a year!!!. Many of these deaths could have been prevented!!!! We can do much better to protect our populations.

Governments, public health systems, clinics, hospitals, universities – we must all recognize the urgency of this public health crisis. And a crisis is exactly what it is ... and how it should be seen.

Your Holiness, I do hope your visit here today helps to shine a brighter light on cardiovascular disease and the need for a more concentrated and comprehensive response. Thank you very much for your support in this fight with no boundaries.


Speech of His Holiness, Pope Francis
to members of the
European Society of Cardiologists

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!

I was pleased to accept the invitation of the Executive Committee of the European Society of Cardiology to meet with you on the occasion of this World Congress which brings together cardiologists from various countries.  I am particularly grateful to Professor Fausto Pinto for his kind words and, through him, I thank each of you for the scientific work in these days of study and relating to one another – relating to others is so important – but above all for your dedication to so many who are sick.  Relating well to those who are sick is a challenge.

You look after the heart.  And how much symbolism is enshrined in this word!  How many hopes are contained in this human organ!  In your hands you hold the beating core of the human body, and as such your responsibility is very great!  I am sure that as you find yourselves before this book of life with its many pages yet to be discovered, you are filled with trepidation and awe.

The Magisterium of the Church has always affirmed the importance of scientific research for human life and health.  The Church not only accompanies you along this demanding path, but also promotes your cause and wishes to support you.  The Church understands that efforts directed to the authentic good of the person are actions always inspired by God.  Nature, in all its complexity, and the human mind, are created by God; their richness must be studied by skilled men and women, in the knowledge that the advancement of the philosophical and empirical sciences, as well as professional care in favour of the weakest and most infirm, is a service that is part of God’s plan.  Openness to the grace of God, an openness which comes through faith, does not weaken human reason, but rather leads it to move forwards, to knowledge of a truth which is wider and of greater benefit to humanity.

At the same time, we know that the scientist, in his or her research, is never neutral, in as much as each one has their own history, their way of being and of thinking.  Every scientist requires, in a sense, a purification; through this process, the toxins which poison the mind’s pursuit of truth and certainty are removed, and this enables a more incisive understanding of the meaning of things.  We cannot deny that our knowledge, even our most precise and scientific knowledge, needs to progress by asking questions and finding answers concerning the origin, meaning and finality of reality; and this includes man.  The sciences alone, however, whether natural or physical, are not sufficient to understand the mystery contained within each person.  When man is viewed in his totality – allow me to emphasize this point – we are able to have a profound understanding of the poor, those most in need, and the marginalized.  In this way, they will benefit from your care and the support and assistance offered by the public and private health sectors.  We must make great efforts to ensure that they are not discarded by a culture which promotes a throwaway mentality.

By means of your invaluable work, you contribute to the healing of physical illness and are able to perceive that there are laws engraved within human nature that no one can tamper with, but rather must be discovered, respected and cooperated with so that life may correspond ever more to the designs of the Creator (cf Gaudium et Spes, 36).  For this reason, it is important that men and women of science, as they examine themselves in the light of that great mystery of human existence, do not give in to the temptation to suppress the truth (cf Rom 1:18).


With these sentiments, I renew my appreciation for your work – I too have been in some of your hands – and I ask the Lord to bless your research and medical care, so that everyone may receive relief from their suffering, a greater quality of life and an increasing sense of hope.  And I ask him to bless your daily efforts so that no one will be discarded from society and from the fullness of human life.
(Original text in Italian)
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