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Monday, November 19, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI addressed the participants in a conference being held by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care) on the theme of "The Hospital, setting for evangelisation: a human and spiritual mission". The Church, he told them, "turns to those who experience pain with a spirit of brotherly participation, inspired by the Spirit of the One Who, through the power of love, restored meaning and dignity to the mystery of suffering.

"With the same sense of hope, the Church also reaches out to healthcare workers and volunteers", the Pope continued. "Yours is a unique mission which requires study, sensitivity and experience. However, for those who choose to work in the world of suffering, experiencing their activity as a 'human and spiritual mission', an additional competence is required, beyond academic qualifications. This is the 'Christian science of suffering', described by the Council as 'the only truth capable of answering the mystery of suffering. … Christ did not do away with suffering. He did not even wish to unveil to us entirely the mystery of suffering. He took suffering upon Himself and this is enough to make you understand all its value'.

"Be experts in this 'Christian science of suffering!' The fact that you are Catholic ... gives you greater responsibility in society and in the Church. … This is a commitment of new evangelisation also in times of economic crisis in which resources are withdrawn from healthcare. Precisely in this context, hospitals and health centres must rethink their role in order to ensure that healthcare remains a universal right to be guaranteed and defended, rather than becoming a mere commodity subject to market laws, and thus a privilege reserved to the few. We must never forget the special attention due to the dignity of the suffering, applying the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity also in the field of healthcare policy".

"It is to be hoped that the language of the 'Christian science of suffering' - of which compassion, solidarity, sharing, abnegation, selflessness and self-giving are a part - becomes the universal lexicon of those who work in the field of healthcare", the Pope emphasised. "From this point of view, hospitals are to be considered as an important location for evangelisation, because where the Church 'is the bearer of the presence of God' she also becomes an 'instrument for the true humanisation of man and the world'. Only by clearly focusing medical and healthcare activities on the well-being of man at his most fragile and defenceless, of man who searches for meaning in the unfathomable mystery of pain, can we conceive of hospitals as a place in which care is a mission and not merely an occupation".

The Holy Father concluded by addressing the sick: "Your silent testimony is an effective sign and instrument of evangelisation for those who assist you and for your families, in the certainty that 'no tear, neither of those who are suffering nor of those who are close to them, is lost before God'".

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