30 April 2018, The Tablet

Change lifestyle to avoid disease, says Pope

Pope Francis was speaking to participants in the Unite to Cure conference, where he met pop star Katy Perry

Change lifestyle to avoid disease, says Pope

Pope Francis has called for changes in lifestyle and culture as among the ways to avoid the "evils" of sickness and disease.

"We are increasingly aware that many evils can be avoided if greater attention is paid to the style of life we adopt and the culture we promote," he said.

"Prevention involves taking a farsighted look at human beings and the environment in which we live. It means aiming for a culture of balance, whose essential factors – education, physical activity, diet, the protection of the environment, respect for the 'health codes' practised by the various religions, timely and precise diagnosis, and so many others – can help us to live better, with fewer health risks."

The Pope was speaking in the Paul VI hall of the Apostolic Palace to participants in the Cura Foundation's Unite to Cure conference in Rome, where he also met the pop singer Katy Perry, among those attending.

Adopting a new "culture of balance" was all the more important in regard to children and of young people, increasingly at risk because of illnesses linked to the "radical changes of modern culture", he continued.

"We need but reflect on the impact on health caused by smoking, alcohol consumption, and toxins released in the air, in the water and in the soil. A number of tumours and other health problems in adults could be avoided by adopting preventive measures during childhood. Yet this would require constant global action; this cannot be delegated to social and governmental institutions, but demands commitment on the part of all. It is urgent to foster everywhere a culture of prevention as the first step in health care."

He welcomed the advances in health care made possible by science.

"Science is a powerful means for better understanding the natural world and human health. It has opened up new possibilities and provided refined technologies that enable us not only to examine the deepest structure of living organisms, including man, but also to intervene in ways so profound and precise as to make it possible even to modify our DNA. Here we see the need for an increased awareness of our ethical responsibility towards humanity and the environment in which we live."

While the Church applauds every effort in research and application, she is also mindful of the basic principle that “not everything technically possible or doable is thereby ethically acceptable”, he said. "Science, like all other human activities, is conscious that certain limits must be respected for the good of humanity itself, and that a sense of ethical responsibility is needed."

Pope Francis said he was delighted to see people from so many different cultures, societies and religions at the event.

He thanked all those involved in the conference, a project of the Pontifical Council for Culture. As well as the Cura Foundation these included the Vatican Science and Faith Foundation, the Stem for Life Foundation and the Holy See's own Secretariat of State, the Pontifical Academy of Life, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Secretariat for Communication.


Pic: Pope Francis greets singer Katy Perry, accompanied by English actor Orlando Bloom, during an audience with people participating in the "United to Cure Conference" at the Vatican April 28. Hundreds of physicians, researchers and health care executives attended the April 26-28 conference to talk about medical advances and steps to promote health-care around the world. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) 

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