On the two meanings, natural and supernatural of the term Salus. Crepaldi.

1 Febbraio 2023 Pubblicato da Lascia il tuo commento

Marco Tosatti

Dear StilumCuriali, we offer for your attention this editorial by Msgr. Giampaolo Crepaldi, published on the website of the Van Thuan International Observatory. Enjoy reading it.


[This is the EDITORIAL Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi wrote for the current issue of the “Bulletin of the Social Doctrine of the Church” dedicated to: HEALING HEALTH CARE. PARTING FROM THE SOCIETY OF PERMANENT PATIENTS.  To see the table of contents and to purchase the issue click here].

The word salus means both health and salvation. The first sense has a natural, earthly, medical, physiological and psychological meaning, while the second one has a supernatural, otherworldly, and spiritual meaning. For the Social Doctrine of the Church, the two terms are related, and much less than opposed to one another. One need only think about the following excerpt from Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate; “Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space.” (No. 11). Health in the health care sense of the term should certainly be included in the notion of human progress as well. The relationship is not only about what everyone admits today, i.e., the psychophysical interpenetration of human phenomena, the interfacing of body and psyche in psycho-somatics: the admission of this bond would keep us at the earthly level of ‘health’ as health care, without elevating us to a higher level. In health care today there is a new form of materialism that reduces the spiritual to the psychic which remains something material, degrading the identification of spiritual with psychic. Conversely, the perspective of the Social Doctrine of the Church regarding the relationship between health in the health care sense and health in the spiritual sense refers to two levels of reality, that of nature and that of supra-nature. The salus that ultimately interests the Church is salus animarum, in view of eternal beatitude as man’s ultimate goal. However, this perspective also sheds new light on salus in the health care sense. This is demonstrated by the history of the Church’s endeavors in this field, especially those of so many religious orders, and the Christian proposal on the meaning of illness and suffering.

In our time, however, and much so nowadays, these issues have become more complicated. On the one hand, medicine has expanded its scope, investing the whole of society. Medicine is no longer concerned with illness alone in the narrow sense of the word, but also with prevention, education to certain lifestyles, aesthetic correction of bodies, cosmetics, practices to be carried out during leisure time, and the cult of the body. Today, users go to pharmacies for a much wider range of purposes and services than in the past. On the other hand, medicine has become fully integrated into an economic and political system that has meanwhile become global and coordinated. This gives rise to a real “therapeutic power” that determines medicine and often makes it travel pathways for reasons that are not strictly medical but, indeed, are economic and political. If society as a whole is now a ‘hospital’ or a ‘pharmacy’, not understood in the traditional sense but as an expression of all the new social functions of medicine, this ‘hospital’ is managed not by physicians but by technocrats subservient to the real powers. It is at this point that health care becomes an ideology tending to be all-encompassing, or, in other words,  potentially totalitarian. The ultimate reason for this degenerative shift is the secularization of health care that has become detached from salus understood in a spiritual and supernatural sense.

As we can see, this is  the outcome so readily evident in every realm of social life that becomes detached from the transcendent dimension. In this case it is health care that renders itself an absolute, becoming a new religion. Many are the signs of this: the ritualistic nature of health practices, the willingness to make great personal sacrifices as once done for reasons of religious devotion, the idolatry of vaccines, the dogmatism with which we abide by the regulations imposed by the health care power brokers, the pseudo-religious symbolism of attitudes such as the indiscriminate use of the face mask, and reliance on the new ‘priests’ in the person of select doctors overexposed by the mass media, and so on.

An interesting chapter of this  conversion of health into an absolute and the creation of a truly pervasive and all- encompassing health care power structure  consists in its relations with science, as pointed out long ago by both atheist thinkers such as Faucault and theologians such as Ivan Illich. Post modernity has somewhat downsized the power of science, highlighting its hypothetical and often very approximate character, as well as the difficulty of collecting objective data as such, conditioned as this is by health policies, human error, and the overriding influence of large pharmaceutical industries that fund 90 % of research. Scientific positivism has been completely defeated on the theoretical level, although many scientists and doctors, to speak of our case, would argue otherwise. The authority of science has now been clothed in humility. Yet, perhaps even more than before,  we still witness the pretense of using scientists and science, medicine and doctors as oracles of absolute truths. Scientism has become political and not just epistemic, so science is used to steer social behavior, exert forms of control over citizens, target non-aligned categories, induce delusion, create widespread fear, and support a series of public narratives that have little to do with medicine and science, but abound with prosopopoeiae.

This issue of the “Bulletin” examines the health care system in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Criticized are the presumption useful to political power that we are all sick until proven  otherwise (while one should think just the opposite, that is, that we are all healthy until proven otherwise), the warning  about the danger of “medicine killing” under the guise of curing, the grafting on society of a system of political control based on induced fear, and moving from experiments in social control for health reasons to other areas of public life. The articles in this issue point to different ways to structure a freer and more accountable health care system, heightening the active involvement of doctors “in science and conscience” and the sick, untangling medicine from its all too close ties with economics and politics, and organizing  things according to the principles of the common good and subsidiarity.

Because of the two meanings of the word salus I mentioned at the beginning, a far from secondary aspect is the Church’s attitude in this field. From this point of view It has a glorious history behind it, which it must not disown in order to become an integral part of the new state and supra-state system of control that considers medicine to be an instrument of globalist political power pursuing preventive social control.

S.E. Mons. Giampaolo Crepaldi

Bishop of Trieste


Aiutate Stilum Curiae






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