Via Catholic News Agency:
In this month’s visit, Pope first visited the San Giovanni hospital, stopping at both the emergency room and the neonatal unit. Currently there are 12 babies with various conditions in the unit. Five of them – including one set of twins – are in very serious condition in the ICU.
A Vatican description of the event said that Pope Francis wore a hygienic mask and took other sanitary precautions, like all visitors to the unit, where the children’s immune systems are often weak.
He spoke to the babies in each incubator, and greeted their parents, offering words of comfort.
Pope Francis then visited the Villa Speranza Hospice, where 30 patients in the terminal stages of illness are housed. He greeted each patient one-by-one, as well as their families, in an emotional encounter.
Through the visit, “the Holy Father wanted to give a strong sign of the importance of life, from its first moment to its natural end,” the Vatican said in a statement.
“The acceptance of life and the guarantee of human dignity at all stages of development are lessons repeatedly stressed by Pope Francis,” the Vatican continued, adding that the Pope’s dual mercy visit is a “concrete and tangible sign” of how essential it is to give our attention “to those in the most vulnerable and precarious situations.”
These are certainly two vulnerable groups that don’t get a lot of political protection out in the world anymore, what with the push for expanding windows for legal abortion and euthanasia. This pope’s common touch in situations like this is marvelous. It’s like he was made for the social media age. His adeptness with media is even more surprising given that he’s almost 80 years old.
Had he visited either the neonatal unit or the hospice care, his point could also have been made. Visiting both perfectly conveyed his message, however.
These monthly outings are part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy that Francis declared last December. One Friday each month, he heads out to spend time with different groups, which in the past have included retired priests and a drug rehab center.