Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers
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of the Catholic Church
The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers was set up by the Motu Proprio Dolentium Hominum of 11 February 1985, by Pope John Paul II who reformed the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers into its present form in 1988. It is part of the Roman Curia.
- Art. 152 — The Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers shows the solicitude of the Church for the sick by helping those who serve the sick and suffering, so that their apostolate of mercy may ever more effectively respond to people’s needs.
- Art. 153 — § 1. The Council is to spread the Church’s teaching on the spiritual and moral aspects of illness as well as the meaning of human suffering .
Its tasks also include coordinating the activities of different dicasteries of the Roman Curia as they relate to health care. The Pontifical Council explains and defends the teachings of the Church on health issues. The Council also follows and studies programs and initiatives of health care policy at both international and national levels, with the goal of extracting its relevance and implications for the pastoral care of the Church.
Work with AIDS patients
Monsignor Mupendawatu said, in an interview on Thursday, July 21, 2011 with the semi-official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, that a papal foundation affiliated with the Pontifical Council, that is dedicated largely to AIDS patients, may expand its services to include a global program of distributing anti-AIDS drugs.
The initiative would respond to a shortage of antiretroviral drugs and other drugs in poorer countries, where the vast majority of AIDS patients receive no adequate treatment.
Mupendawatu is a delegate to the Good Samaritan Foundation, established by Pope John Paul II in 2004, to provide economic support to the sick who are most in need, particularly those suffering from AIDS.
Mupendawatu said the Foundation planned to strengthen its activity, particularly in Africa, by increasing its promotion of donations of pharmaceutical and medical material, and by working more closely with local Catholic leaders to place the Church in the forefront of the care for AIDS patients.
To favor these efforts, he said, the foundation may open offices on every continent, which would function in coordination with the central office at the Vatican in Rome.
"The foundation is also studying the possibility of creating its own 'pharmaceutical center' which would allow the collection and distribution of medicines in poor countries," he said. The center would work in cooperation with other church agencies.
Mupendawatu said that while more than 25 percent of the global health care to AIDS patients is provided by Catholic institutions, the church needs to do even more in the face of the epidemic, which infects about 7,000 additional people each day.
One of the church's priorities is to help make "universal and free access to treatment" a reality for all those infected with AIDS, he said. Today, only about 5 percent of people with AIDS patients receive adequate care, he said.
"It is enough to realize that the majority of AIDS patients in Africa live on a dollar a day and cannot afford any treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to reach the essential goal of no-cost drugs," he said.
Mupendawatu said the church's insistence that education in responsible sexuality be at least a part of any anti-AIDS strategy has found appreciation in scientific circles, in fact, contrary to what the public has been led to believe. The church's position is that effective prevention of AIDS must include the abandonment of high-risk behavior and the adoption of a "balanced sexuality" based on permanent monogamy- the inclusion of total premarital chastity and lasting full marital fidelity, he said.
He noted that Pope Benedict XVI's monthly prayer intention for July evoked the church's commitment to AIDS sufferers: "That Christians may ease the physical and spiritual sufferings of those who are sick with AIDS, especially in the poorest countries."
Revision of the 1995 Charter For Health Care Workers
"The Vatican was preparing to release an update to its 1995 Charter for Health Care Workers that would include the church's expanded teachings on bioethics, health coverage and so-called "orphan drugs."
The charter, which provides a thorough summary of the church's position on affirming the primary, absolute value of life in the health field, "needed adequate supplementation," said Camillian Father Augusto Chendi, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. ..."
The Pontifical Council is composed of a President (Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski had held that office until his death in July of 2016; the position is now vacant), a Secretary, Monsignor Jean-Marie Musivi Mupendawatu, and an Under-Secretary, Father Augusto Chendi, M.I., besides a staff of 6 officials. The 36 members and 50 consultors, nominated by the pope, represent Curia dicasteries and organisations, the episcopacy and the laity.
The President, Secretary, and Under-Secretary participate in interdicasterial meetings as well as conferences and lectures related to the health care field.
List of Presidents
- Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini (16 February 1985 - 31 December 1996)
- Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán (7 January 1997 - 18 April 2009)
- Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski (18 April 2009 – 12 July 2016)