(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Monday afternoon with a group of young patients, doctors and nurses from Rome’s ‘Bambino Gesù’ children’s hospital. The children, aged between 5 and 18, are taking part in a documentary programme on Italian television exploring the experiences of young patients and their families at the Catholic hospital.
The ‘Bambino Gesù’ hospital, just a stone’s throw away from the Vatican, is the largest pediatric research facility in Europe. It treats over a million and a half young patients each year, with children travelling from all over the world to make use of its specialized services and equipment.
This was the second time the youngsters had come for a papal audience, which was being filmed for the TV series showing every Sunday evening on the RAI 3 channel.
Hospital must be a family
In his greetings to the children and staff, including the hospital director, Dr Mariella Enoc, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of providing a welcoming family environment. Each patient, he said, has a name and an individual story, which is more important that the sickness that he or she has come to cure. The hospital, he said, must always be first and foremost a family which takes care of the needs of each of its members.
Love overcomes fear
Going into hospital, Pope Francis said, can be quite frightening and he noted that some of the younger children cried at the audience because they confused a pope, dressed in white, with a doctor, who is coming to give them an injection. But a loving caress, he said, calms those fears and doctors are called to treat patients with their hearts and their love, as well as with their medical skills.
Finally Pope Francis thanked all the staff for providing “a witness of humanity” in the way they treat the children in their care. You are a family, he said, and nothing is more important than that!