VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI and other church leaders said it was the moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.
Access to adequate medical attention, the pope said in a written message Nov. 18, was one of the "inalienable rights" of man.
The pope's message was read by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to participants at the 25th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry at the Vatican Nov. 18-19.
The theme of this year's meeting was "Caritas in Veritate - toward an equitable and human health care."
The pope lamented the great inequalities in health care around the globe. While people in many parts of the world aren't able to receive essential medications or even the most basic care, in industrialized countries there is a risk of "pharmacological, medical and surgical consumerism" that leads to "a cult of the body," the pope said.
"The care of man, his transcendent dignity and his inalienable rights" are issues that should concern Christians, the pope said.