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Pope Francis Calls to Rediscover the Role of the Family Doctor

Pope Francis Rediscover the Role of the Family Doctor
Dr. Tallaj and Pope Francis / Photo Courtesy: SOMOS Community Cares

By: Sarah Shultz

The Bishop of Rome received three hundred primary care physicians at the Vatican on Saturday, May 25, in support of the “Thank You, Doctor!” campaign, a global initiative promoted by SOMOS Community Care in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Life.

“Competence” and “proximity” are the characteristics that make the role of the “family doctor” fundamental, Pope Francis said this Saturday, May 25, as he received three hundred family doctors from different continents.

The Bishop of Rome thanked them for drawing attention to the role of the primary care physician with the international “Thank you, doctor!” campaign (, an initiative promoted by the New York-based nonprofit Somos Community Care, in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Pope’s Childhood Memories

Pope Francis Rediscover the Role of the Family Doctor (2)
Dr. Tallaj and Pope Francis
/ Photo Courtesy: SOMOS Community Cares

In the meeting, Pope Francis opened his heart to recount the most cherished memories of his childhood, particularly when he was five years old, “one July 15, ’42,” when “Mom was expecting her fourth, and me one of my siblings, my brother was with a flu, the doctor came.” 

“A very nice memory! And he gave us the medicine, it was a cold, a flu. And then he approached mom, mom was there with dad and he touched her belly and said, ‘Eh, it’s time already! Let’s hope…’ And that same night the fourth was born. These memories of tenderness, of familiarity with the family doctor, are things that I carry with me because at that time things were so, so beautiful!” recalled Pope Francis with emotion.

Francis dwelt on the significance of two qualifying aspects of the family physician’s mission. 

The Physician, “The One Who Takes Care” 

First and foremost, the doctor is “the one who cares.” , beyond scientific advances, medicine is always and first of all an encounter of people, it is care, closeness, listening, and “this is the mission of the family doctor,” the Pontiff explained.

He emphasized how the sick person not only looks to the doctor in terms of professional competence but also sees in him or her a friendly presence that instills confidence in healing and, if this is not possible, continues to look us in the eye until the end, not leaving us alone. 

To illustrate this role of the doctor, he went on to open his heart, “I remember as a child the family doctor coming to the house, healing us; I also remember the family midwife because there are five of us, so when that woman with the suitcase came, we knew a baby brother was coming! It’s a familiarity with the family doctor back then, and I have so many good memories of the family doctor.”

The Doctor, a “Family” Person

The second reason why the role of the primary care physician is valuable, according to the Pope, is to “be a ‘family’ person.” 

“The presence of the family doctor, in fact, helps to surround the sick person with a network of affection, sharing and solidarity, which goes beyond the diagnostic-therapeutic phase, strengthening human relationships, making suffering a moment of communion to be experienced together, not only for the good of the patient, but for that of all: of the caregiver, family members, and the extended community.”

“This avoids the risk that the person who suffers and those close to them are sucked into the machine of bureaucracy and computerization; or worse, that they end up victims of market logics that have little to do with health, especially when it comes to the elderly and frail,” the Holy Father concluded.

“Thank you, Doctor!”

The “Thank you, Doctor!”  campaign has already gathered more than one million endorsements from people in different parts of the world, and has garnered support from institutions such as the European Union of General and Family Physicians (UEMO), the Federation of Catholic Doctors of the World, the World Health Council and the Journal of Research & Applied Medicine.



Published by: Khy Talara


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