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Monday, January 31, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2011 (VIS) - Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, has written a message for the fifty-eighth World Leprosy Day, which falls on 30 January. The message is entitled: "Uniting our efforts for a better expression of justice and love towards leprosy sufferers".

  This World Day, Archbishop Zimowski writes, is an opportunity "to reiterate our gratitude for the commitment of millions of workers, professionals and volunteers from the fields of healthcare, society, politics and the media, who have helped and continue to help leprosy sufferers". In this context, he expresses particular thanks to the Raoul Follereau Association, which is soon to celebrate its sixtieth anniversary.

  "The lethal impact of leprosy", he continues, "has been considerably reduced following the development of effective pharmacological treatments. Yet it continues to provoke suffering, disability and social exclusion, causing ignorance, inequality and discrimination to prosper which, in their turn, promote the spread of the disease. ... There is still a serious lack of structures, both for early diagnosis of the infection, and for the social and professional rehabilitation of people who have been cured but remain mutilated by Hansen's disease. We must promote a more widespread education of communities and peoples, so that they understand that those who have been cured no longer represent any threat of infection to others and must be helped to reinsert themselves into society".

  Quoting from the Pope's Message for the twenty-fifth international conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, Archbishop Zimowski notes how, "also in the field of healthcare - which is an integral part of individual life and of the common good - it is important to establish true distributive justice which guarantees everyone adequate care on the basis of objective needs. Consequently, the world of healthcare cannot divorce itself from moral rules, which must govern it in order to ensure it does not become inhuman".

  On the eve of World Leprosy Day, the president of the pontifical council also mentions the efforts made by people within the Church "who, in many cases, committed themselves even unto the sacrifice of their own lives for the victims of Hansen's disease", in which context he mentioned the Canadian Cardinal Paul-Emile Leger, the Belgian St. Damian de Veuster and the Polish Blessed Jan Beyzym.
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