Pope John Paul II taught us that solidarity is “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good.”+ Despite flashy sound bytes and claims that nearly every deal can be a “win win,” the stark inequities that we observe on mission and the economic and social constraints that limit access to health can fuel hopelessness. Healers, however, cannot despair. At the time of surgery, they put away all kinds of concerns that are part of a not-perfect medical world. Administrative burdens must take the backseat to the patient entrusted to their care.
But the problems are real. In the context of transferring technology to what are often called “third world” countries, we can become burdened by the frustration of “planned obsolescence” of some equipment, when the emergence of new technology means that replacement pieces for older models are no longer available. We are aghast at market schemes or legal frameworks that limit supply even when the demand from patients is great.
Francis warns us: Let us ward off destructive cynicism! May we reach out to our brothers and sisters and support them so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity! May their cry become our own, and together may we break down the barriers of indifference. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy, he says, “will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty.”
Casting Open the Doors of the Heart: Lessons Learned in a Jubilee Year of Mercy is a five-part blog series written by Mary McCann Sanchez, Senior Director of Programs. Mary joined the Solidarity Bridge staff in September 2015, and has been on six trips to Bolivia during her first year.
All citations of the words of Pope Francis are from the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy.
+ Pope John Paul II - Sollicitudo rei socialis