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Pope Francis: Lack of access to healthcare is social justice issue

Pope Francis, shown here presiding at Holy Mass of the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy on the 53st World Day of Peace in Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City on Wednesday, said Friday that governments and healthcare institutions should work to ensure all people have access to healthcare. Photo by Angelo Carconi/EPA-EFE
Pope Francis, shown here presiding at Holy Mass of the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy on the 53st World Day of Peace in Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City on Wednesday, said Friday that governments and healthcare institutions should work to ensure all people have access to healthcare. Photo by Angelo Carconi/EPA-EFE

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Pope Francis on Friday said governments and institutions should work to ensure everyone has access to healthcare.

In a message for the World Day of the Sick, the pope said the lack of access to healthcare is a matter of social justice.

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"For this reason, I urge healthcare institutions and government leaders throughout the world not to neglect social justice out of a preoccupation for financial concerns," he said.

In his address, the pope also encouraged the use of principles of "solidarity and subsidiarity" to ensure access to treatments that will preserve or restore health.

Subsidiarity is a concept in Catholic thought that matters should be handled by the smallest or least central unit of social organization at which they will function.

He also encouraged healthcare professionals to help make Christ's presence felt by their patients, and said conscientious objection may sometimes be necessary in the course of the work, particularly for "for the safeguarding of the truest human right, the right to life."

"In your work, may you always strive to promote the dignity and life of each person, and reject any compromise in the direction of euthanasia, assisted suicide or suppression of life, even in the case of terminal illness," he said.

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