The Pontifical Academy for Life had presented the ‘Conclusive Declaration’ of the Workshop and workgroups on ‘Aging and Disability’, held on the occasion of the 20th Plenary Assembly of it’s members (19-22 February 2014).
The academy wishes to present the following reflections:
1. We wish to reaffirm the intrinsic and inalienable dignity of all human beings, regardless of their age, health or existential condition.
2. The unfortunate existence of a “throw-away culture”, as emphasized by Pope Francis, is increasingly widespread and can only be countered by an attitude of mutual acceptance.
3. First of all, it is necessary to promote and sustain mutual relationships within families, sustaining, according to the principle of subsidiarity, the needs which each family manifests with regard to their helpful support of aged and disabled persons.
4. This would be translated into real solidarity only if it finds social and institutional support regarding places and opportunities for relationships, relief and comfort.
5. In particular, we encourage the efforts of doctors and all other health care workers, and of those who work in the areas of bioethics and legislation, to discover appropriate responses to the urgent problem of the abandonment of elderly disabled persons, mostly in cultures of wellbeing and opulence but also in other societies.
6. We reaffirm the ethical-professional obligation of doctors and health-care institutions not to deprive elderly people of necessary health care, but always to offer treatments considered appropriate according to the criteria of ethical-clinical proportionality.
7. There is an urgent need to favor an accepting culture for the elderly, which views preparation for death not as an end, but as the accomplishment of existence for which old age allows for a more mature preparation.
8. The light of faith helps us to understand the reality of disability, in order to find meaning and hope in every condition of life and sustain the care and assistance required from families and health-care institutions.