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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Illness a reminder of life’s value, pope tells Huntington’s patients

The frailty associated with illnesses like Huntington’s disease is not a reason to shun the sick but a reminder of the value of life, Pope Francis said.

Jesus came to tear down the walls of stigma and marginalisation and proved through his love that disease and sickness are “never an obstacle to encountering people,” the pope said on 18th May during a meeting with 1,700 people – those with the fatal genetic disorder and their families.

“Fragility is not an evil. And disease, which is an expression of fragility, cannot and must not make us forget that, in the eyes of God, our value is always priceless,” he said.

The meeting was sponsored by HDdennomore (pronounced ‘Hidden no more’), a coalition of neuroscientists, research experts and institutes with the goal of ‘ending the stigma and shame around the disease’.

Huntington’s disease results in the death of brain cells and causes problems with a person’s mental abilities, body coordination and movement.

Since the disease’s discovery in 1872, the uncontrollable movements that characterise the disease have led to the marginalisation of those afflicted.

Picture: Pope Francis embraces a patient with Huntington’s disease during the pontiff’s general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 17th May. (CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA).