.... We [...] wish at this point to pay the highest tribute of praise to the care taken of the sick, the infirm and afflicted of every kind; We mean hospitals, leprosaries, dispensaries and homes for the aged and for maternity cases, and orphanages. These are to Our eyes the fairest flowers of missionary endeavors; they give us as it were a vision of the Divine Redeemer Himself, Who "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed." (Acts 10:38)
Such outstanding works of charity are undoubtedly of the highest efficacy in preparing the souls of non-Christians and in drawing them to the faith and to the practice of Christianity; besides, Our Lord said to His Apostles: "Into what city soever you enter, and they receive you... heal the sick that are therein and say to them: the Kingdom of God is come nigh upon you." Luke 10:8-9.
However, the brothers and nuns who feel that they are called to undertake such work must, before leaving their own country, acquire the professional training and knowledge which are today required in these matters. We know that there are nuns with full professional qualifications who have earned well-merited recognition by the special study of loathsome diseases, such as leprosy, and by discovering remedies for them. These and all other missionaries who are giving their service so generously in leper hospitals have Our paternal blessing, and their exalted charity compels Our admiration and praise.
With regard to medicine and surgery, however, it will certainly be advisable to enlist the services of laymen, provided not only that they have taken the necessary degrees for this work, and are willing to leave their homeland in order to help the missionaries, but also that in the matter of faith and morals they leave nothing to be desired.
Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Evangelii praecones, June 2, 1951.
The Social Mission of the Country Doctor
“The Christian doctor, any doctor whose honesty is worthy of this trust, can do much to raise the moral level of the people...”
“Your virtues, your goodness, will not be denied the noblest recompense. God will reveal Himself more fully to you if in the loyalty of your heart you correspond faithfully to His invitations.” ________________________________________
Accustomed as he is to a life of exhausting effort, the country dweller who cultivates the soil can usually bear discomfort and illness much longer than the city dweller, so that when he calls the doctor, the sickness is, generally speaking, serious, and the pain well-nigh intolerable. Sometimes, too, the elementary and inept remedy which he has ignorantly tried before summoning you has simply aggravated the evil.
And then to your science and ability, your heart must add the balm of delicate understanding, for the very person who in health seemed coarse and hard, perhaps, often becomes in sickness as sensitive as a child, and like a child, feels the need for moral comfort. After the priest, no one better than the doctor can provide this. And thus he earns the confidence of the sick person and of the family, and by that very fact acquires over them and over the whole population a deep influence, and one which is eagerly accepted.
The Christian doctor, any doctor whose honesty is worthy of this trust, can do much to raise the moral level of the people, in restraining or repressing abuses, vices and habits which conscience reproves. The delicate task of preparing the way for the ministrations of the priest, of dissipating prejudices and unreasonable and disastrous apprehensions, not rarely falls to him.
And yet this task, so beautiful for the good it does to your neighbor, is very hard on you. It offers not only a frequent but a continual occasion for self-denial, for troubles and discomforts, often devoid of due appreciation, without gratitude, without equitable recompense. Not rarely, too, the country doctor while dedicating himself wholeheartedly to the sick, feels a sense of loneliness, especially if he cannot have his family with him, if he cannot ensure, in the little out-of-the-way town to which he is perhaps bound, suitable instruction and formation for his children. We therefore express the wish that your just aspirations in the moral and economic orders may receive due satisfaction, to your greater advantage, and that of all to whom you so assiduously lend your service. And now, beloved sons, look up to heaven, and you will feel the comfort and the light of the divine Doctor of humanity. Your virtues, your goodness, will not be denied the noblest recompense. God will reveal Himself more fully to you if in the loyalty of your heart you correspond faithfully to His invitations.
Allocution to country doctors, September 18, 1950, Pope Pius XII.