Hey, Look Who's Supporting Free Universal Healthcare! It's The Pope!
If there is anything Americans love more than books and articles about how French people stay thin, it is books and articles about how Italian people live for freaking forever. You've got that Mediterranean diet thing, not to mention all the fawning articles about how long people live in Sardinia and in that one town where 300 people are over 100 years old even though they all smoke and are overweight and no one is ever jogging. There are actual American doctors studying that town and Italy in general, trying to figure out what's up. Is it because family? Is it because they are relaxed? Is it because of the wine? Or the anchovies? Probably it is the anchovies.
But also it could also be that everyone in Italy has subsidized healthcare. It could also be that.
In fact, the World Health Organization ranks Italy's healthcare system second best in the world, after France.
And you know who loves Italy's wonderful healthcare system? The pope. This weekend, in his first address following major intestinal surgery, Pope Francis discussed how very important it is that everyone have good healthcare that is free and accessible to all people.
Straight from The Vatican:
Let us remember that, in the protocol of the final judgment – Matthew 25 – one of the things they will ask us will be about closeness to the sick.
In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced once again how important good health care is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries. Free health care, that assures good service, accessible to everyone. This precious benefit must not be lost. It needs to be kept! And for this everyone needs to be committed, because it helps everyone and requires everyone's contribution. In the Church it also happens at times that some healthcare institution, due to poor management, does not do well economically, and the first thought that comes to mind is to sell it. But the vocation, in the Church, is not to have money; it is to offer service, and service is always freely given. Do not forget this: to save free institutions.
It seems like the Church actually has quite a lot of money, but okay.
Given that apparently a lot of conservative Catholics in the United States want to bar Joe Biden from taking communion because he supports abortion rights, they should perhaps consider that while the actual pope does not want that, he does want everyone to have free healthcare. So if they're trying to be really holy, that might be the best way to go. And it's probably even more effective than serving anchovies with communion.
Of course, this could just be a nefarious plot to tank Abigail Spanberger's reelection prospects, but it also seems fairly likely the Pope actually does think people should be able to get medical care whether they have piles of money like the Catholic Church does or not. He's kind of kooky like that. He probably just thinks it's great that surgery and hospitalization are covered for everyone by the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), instead of it costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and also that everyone gets a family doctor. Because hey, that probably is very nice for people who are not the pope. I hope to experience it someday as I have dual citizenship in Italy, and the odds of me buying one of those $1 houses in Sicily and moving there are much greater than the United States ever joining the rest of the civilized world on the socialized healthcare front.
After all, that would just about kill the "Eat Like These Super Healthy People Who Just Very Coincidentally Live In A Country With Universal Healthcare!" diet industry.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse