COVID-19 - Pontifical Academy reminds governments healthcare rationing must only be 'last resort'

COVID-19: Pontifical Academy reminds governments healthcare rationing must only be “last resort”

(Source: CD/Vatican News)

Healthcare rationing in the COVID-19 crisis “must be the last resort”, a Pontifical Academy has reminded governments, adding that “the search for treatments that are equivalent to the extent possible, the sharing of resources, and the transfer of patients are alternatives that must be carefully considered” first for coronavirus patients, “within a framework of justice”.

Alliance between science and humanism

The Pontifical Academy for Life issued a Note on the COVID-19 emergency entitled “Pandemic and Universal Brotherhood”.

The document calls for “an alliance between science and humanism” that should guide our response to the crisis.

Reciprocity the basis of life

The current situation has led us to understand “the precariousness that radically characterizes our human condition”. We are not “masters of our own fate”; on the contrary, our lives are interconnected and interrelated.

This leads to an awareness “of the reciprocity that is at the basis of our life”.

Noting the concerns that have arisen with regard to personal rights and freedoms, the Academy asserts that rights have corresponding duties.

“The coexistence of free and equal persons is an exquisitely ethical question, not a technical one”.

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Special care for the old and weak

Our social bonds are being put to the test at the present time, says the Academy. It warns that political decisions should not be based solely on scientific data, but must take into account ethical and moral considerations as well.

For instance, health care should be guided by prudential decisions on the best possible use of treatments based on the needs of the patients.

If rationing of care becomes absolutely necessary – and it should always be a “last resort” – the criteria for such rationing must not discriminate against the old and weak.

It be based instead “on solid arguments, to avoid arbitrariness or improvisation in emergency situations”.

Attention to the most fragile

The document insists on “particular attention to those who are most fragile”, especially the elderly and those with special needs.

“Every form of solicitude, every expression of benevolence, is a victory of the Resurrected Jesus”, it says.

At the same time, we must not forget “the other calamities that affect the most fragile”: refugees, and victims of war and hunger.

The unstoppable power of prayer

Finally, the Academy offers reflections on the importance of intercessory prayer.

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“Where evangelical closeness meets a physical limit or hostile opposition, intercession – founded in the Crucifix – retains its unstoppable and decisive power, even should people seem not to live up to God’s blessing”, it says.

Prayer helps us “to come to terms with the tragic mystery of death, the fear of which is part of all our stories today”.

The shared witness of universal brotherhood, which can be seen even by non-believers, “points toward the best part of the human condition”.

The Academy affirms, in conclusion, that “humanity that, for the sake of life as an unwaveringly common good, does not abandon the field in which human beings love and toil together, earns the gratitude of all and the respect of God”.

Full text of the note of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the COVID-19 Emergency:

More from the Vatican on the COVID-19 crisis:

Vatican cardinal deplores on COVID-19: “We don’t have enough masks but there are more than enough bullets”

Vatican tests 170 people for COVID-19, confirms two new positives but says Pope “not involved”

Vatican cardinal, on COVID-19: “We should wash our hands, but not of our responsibility for the vulnerable”

Vatican bodies denounce “selfishness and shortsightedness” of “uncoordinated” national responses to COVID-19

COVID-19: Vatican issues “painful” decree to celebrate Easter without physical presence of faithful


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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.
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