ROME, November 18, 2010 ( – In a letter to participants at the 25th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, Pope Benedict said that “the world of health may not evade the moral rules” and must avoid a consumerist “cult of the body.” The pope listed destruction of the human embryo and euthanasia as examples of a failure of justice and charity in health care.

Charity requires justice, the pope said, and “justice must be among the health agendas of governments and international institutions.”

“Unfortunately, alongside positive and encouraging results, there are opinions and ways of thinking that hurt. I am referring to issues such as those related to the so-called ‘reproductive health,’ with the use of artificial reproductive techniques that involve destruction of embryos, or legalized euthanasia.

“The love of justice, the protection of life from conception to natural death, respect for the dignity of every human being should be sustained and witnessed, even against the tide: the core ethical values are the common heritage of universal morality and the basis of democratic society,” said the pope.

He added: “We are witnessing, on the one hand, a care for health which risks turning into pharmacological, medical and surgical consumerism, almost a cult of the body while, on the other hand, we see the difficulties millions of people face as they seek to obtain minimal subsistence and the medicines they need to cure themselves.”

At the 2009 synod of African bishops at the Vatican, catholic health care agencies in the developing countries of Africa revealed that one of their biggest challenges was obtaining sufficient anti-retroviral drugs to treat AIDS victims already suffering from the disease. International aid organizations, the bishops said, were solely focused on prevention to the detriment of attempts to treat the ill.

“Care for the human being,” the pope said, is a core issue for the Christian community, “for his transcendent dignity and inalienable rights.”

Speaking of health care development in the third world, Pope Benedict said, “I would advocate the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion and sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on a realisation of our need for a changed lifestyle, and on prudence, the virtue which tells us what needs to be done today in view of what might happen tomorrow.”