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Thursday, February 3, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 3 FEB 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference took place to present Benedict XVI's Message for the nineteenth World Day of the Sick which will be held on 11 February, and a seminar on the theme "Catholic healthcare associations and the culture of life", due to be held on 5 February at Rome's St. Pius X Auditorium to mark the end of the twenty-fifth anniversary celebrations of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

  Participating in today's conference were Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, Bishop Jose Luis Redrado Marchite O.H. and Msgr. Jean-Marie Mpendawatu Mate Musivi, respectively president, secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, and Rosa Merola, consultor of the pontifical council and psychologist at Rome's Rebibbia prison.

  Archbishop Zimowski explained how Benedict XVI's Message - published on 18 December 2010 - encourages people to reflect "on the mystery of human suffering in the light of Christian faith. At the same time it promotes greater sensitivity, within Christian communities and civil society, towards our brothers and sisters who are experiencing situations of suffering and illness, that no-one may be abandoned or deprived of the treatment they need.

  "From this perspective", he added, "the Pope immediately highlights three fundamental preconditions for achieving authentic healthcare renewal, beginning with the weakest sectors of the world population. ... The first of these concerns the centrality of human beings, who must be given care and attention, and even more so if they find themselves in conditions of want, suffering or marginalisation. ...In the second place, there is need for an authentic humanisation of the field of healthcare. ... The third point concerns the commitment of the particular Churches, and the Pope invites dioceses all over the world to strive to ensure that the care of sick and suffering people may be improved and made more effective".

  The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care also noted that in this year's Message "the Holy Father calls for serious reflection on certain fundamental themes, beginning with the 'mystery of suffering'. This is necessary, on the one hand, in order to recognise the source of our light and hope and to find the strength to live through a period of suffering and, on the other, to recognise the ... ways in which we are called to care for sick and/or afflicted people".

  "The World Day of the Sick, and suffering in general, are nor limited to the elderly, Benedict XVI explains in his Message. Thus, he also calls on young people - the sick and the healthy - to build bridges of love and solidarity, and to do so on the foundation of the Eucharist", where Christ "gives Himself to us for Love, to make us participants in His life". At the same time the Pope invites us "to recognise and serve Christ in the face and condition of our poor, afflicted, weak brothers and sisters".

  The Pope's Message, Archbishop Zimowski concluded his remarks, "ends with an appeal addressed to everyone, especially to those who, with various roles and responsibilities (including volunteers to whom a recently-inaugurated European Year has been dedicated), work in the field of healthcare and treatment for the sick and suffering".
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