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Pope: Caring for others a ‘vaccine’ against individualism
A nurse holds hands with a Covid-19 patient in an intensive care unit in an Italian hospital
20 February 2021. In a letter addressed to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis remembers doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel who have died in the performance of their duties during the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis has recalled the “generous” and “heroic” efforts of doctors, nurses and other health care personnel during the coronavirus emergency.

The Pope’s remarks come in a letter addressed to Archbishop Vincent Paglia on the occasion of a memorial service for health care workers who have died as a result of the pandemic. The event was organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life, which Paglia heads, to mark the day set aside in Italy to recognize the service of health care personnel. The commemoration occurs on the one-year anniversary of the detection of the first case of Covid-19 in the country.

A challenge to society

“The example of so many of our brothers and sisters, who have risked their lives to the point of losing them, inspires deep gratitude in all of us, and is a cause for reflection,” the Pope writes. “In the presence of such self-giving, the whole of society is challenged to bear ever greater witness to love of neighbour and care for others, especially the weakest.”

A vaccine against individualism

He added, “The dedication of those who, even in these days, are working in hospitals and health care facilities is a ‘vaccine’ against individualism and self-centredness, and demonstrates the most authentic desire that dwells in the human heart: to be close to those who are most in need and to spend oneself for them.”

Pope Francis assured those taking part in Saturday’s memorial service of his spiritual closeness, saying, “I join spiritually with all those gathered for this significant commemorative event, and I greet you with my blessing.”