“Careerism Is A Leprosy”: Pope’s Comment Dismays WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination

TOKYO, June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire — WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa has written to Pope Francis, expressing his concern that the Pope’s remark in a recent speech that “Careerism is a leprosy” will reinforce discrimination against people affected by leprosy and their families.

“In South America in particular, where there are many Catholics and still quite a few people affected by leprosy, I believe what you said will have had a big impact,” Sasakawa wrote on June 13.

In the letter, in which he also acknowledges with gratitude the Vatican’s ongoing support for eliminating leprosy and leprosy-related discrimination, he requests an audience with the Pope so that he can update him on the fight against the disease.

In a speech on June 6 at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which trains future Vatican diplomats, Pope Francis warned against putting personal ambition ahead of service to the Church, saying, “Careerism is a leprosy, a leprosy.” The full text of his speech is available on the Vatican website.

In January 2012, Sasakawa wrote to the producers and distributor of an animated feature, “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” protesting over a trailer for the film in which leprosy was portrayed in a discriminatory light. The scene was subsequently modified.

Natsuko Tominaga
Public Relations Department
The Nippon Foundation
Tel: +81-3-6229-5131
E-mail: pr@ps.nippon-foundation.or.jp

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