Pope Francis met with the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Friday, affirming the dignity of every person and emphasizing the Church’s task of accompanying the ill and suffering, especially in the face of increasing support for euthanasia.

Pain, suffering, and the meaning of life and death are all problems the contemporary mind does not know how to face with hope, the Pope said Jan. 26, and therefore “this is one of the duties that the Church is called to render to contemporary man.”

“It is clear that where life is valid not for its dignity, but for its efficiency and productivity, [euthanasia] becomes possible. In this scenario it must be reiterated that human life, from conception to its natural end, has a dignity that renders it inviolable.”

Pope Francis met at the Vatican's Clementine Hall with the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the conclusion of their plenary session, praising their study of “the sensitive issues” surrounding the accompaniment of terminally ill patients.

Secularization and the emphasis on self-determination and personal autonomy have increased the demand for euthanasia, he noted, and many people believe that the “voluntary interruption of human existence [is] a choice of ‘civilization.’”

Therefore, authentic pastors have an opportunity to accompany people in difficult circumstances, with an accompaniment that does not “abandon man to himself, nor leave him in the grip of his disorientation and his errors, but with truth and mercy,” brings him back to the good, Francis said.

“Authentic pastoring therefore is every action aimed at taking man by the hand, when he has lost the sense of his dignity and his destiny, to lead him with confidence to rediscover the loving fatherhood of God, his good destiny and the ways to build a more human world.”

The Pope also expressed his appreciation for the congregation’s commitment to protecting the faith and the sanctity of the sacraments.

In particular, he pointed to their work examining cases concerning graviora delicta, external violations against faith and morals or in the celebration of the sacraments; and applications for the dissolution of the matrimonial bond in favor of the faith.

This is especially important today, he said, as man’s understanding of self becomes ever more fluid and changeable, influencing his existential and ethical choices.

“The man of today no longer knows who he is and, therefore, struggles to recognize how to act well.”

“In this sense, the task of your Congregation appears decisive in recalling the transcendent vocation of man and the indivisible connection of his reason with truth and goodness, which introduces faith in Jesus Christ,” he said.

“Nothing helps man to know himself and God’s plan for the world like the opening of reason to the light that comes from God.”