The pope met with young patients of the Bambino Gesú hospital of Rome, which belongs to the Vatican. Together with their parents and their caretakers, they filled Paul VI Audience Hall.
'Unfortunately, many sick children, and many doctors and nurses have had to stay at the hospital.â?
The pope has heard the stories of the hospital workers and the children who have been cured, despite having very slim chances of recovery.
'Accompanying a child that suffers is very hard: we can only give them tenderness, caresses, closeness, give them a shoulder to cry on. Only that. Why do children have to suffer? That is one of the great questions of existence. We do not know.â?
He asked doctors and nurses to remain fully aware of the pain their patients have to go through. Never treat them mechanically, he said. He also gave them the recipe for success.
'The recipe is to be thankful, just because you can be there, with that person. It is medicine against the loss of hope, a terrible contagious sickness. When hope dies out, it is terrible. But being thankful, saying thank you is everything, and it is what allows us to carry on.â?
The pope has made a subtle reference to a corruption case in the hospital which is being investigated by Vatican courts: two hospital workers who are accused of having diverted money from the foundation to pay for the refurbishment of the apartment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
'The temptation of uniformity, of transforming a child hospital, which is a beautiful thing, into a business. Doctors become businessmen, nurses become businesswomen... Everyone becomes a businessman. Only one thing can make you fear: corruption. Look at the children and think: 'Can we make an industry out of these children? No!â?
The Bambino Gesú is the largest children's hospital in Europe, and a pioneer in organ transplants in children. But, aside from treating their patients, they also take care of their families. This year, for example, they have hosted 3,500 families during 88,000 nights.