On Thursday, Pope Francis spoke before a plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gathered on the topic of care for the critically and terminally ill.

Pope Francis said that today’s “socio-cultural context” is lending itself towards losing its recognition of the value of human life.

“The present socio-cultural context is eroding progressively awareness regarding what makes human life precious. It, in fact, is valued ever more often by reason of its efficiency and usefulness, to the point of considering ‘discarded lives’ or ‘unworthy lives’ those that don’t respond to such criteria.”

He said that in reality, a society can only be regarded as “civil” if it goes against what he calls the “throwaway culture.”

“In reality, a society merits the qualification of ‘civil’ if it develops antibodies against the throwaway culture; if it recognizes the intangible value of human life; if solidarity is actively practiced and safeguarded as foundation of coexistence.”

Relating his words to the CDF’s topic of care for the ill, Pope Francis said human lives lose no value despite any medical condition present.

“Human life, given its eternal destiny, keeps all its value and all its dignity in any condition, also of precariousness and fragility, and, as such, is always worthy of the greatest consideration.”

He also thanked those who practice palliative care and carry out a “therapy of dignity,” in a world gripped with the ideas of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“I think of how much good hospices do for palliative care, where the terminally sick are accompanied by qualified medical, psychological and spiritual support, so that they can live with dignity, comforted by the closeness of dear persons, the final phase of their earthly life. I hope that such centers will continue to be places in which the ‘therapy of dignity’ is practiced with commitment, thus nourishing love and respect for life.”

At the end of his address, he thanked each member of the CDF for their service and asked for their prayers.

“I invoke upon you an abundance of the Lord’s blessings, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you.”

Read Pope Francis’ full address to the CDF here.

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