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Monday, January 31, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2005 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry has just published the Message of its president, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, for the celebration tomorrow, January 30, of the 52nd World Day of Leprosy.

  The Message begins with the Apostle Paul's exhortation, in a Letter to the Church in Rome, "to cry with those who are crying," because "if one member suffers, then all members suffer together." The cardinal notes that while we can celebrate man's dominion over leprosy, or Hansen's disease, "it is still lethal in at least nine countries." Often worse than the disease itself, he writes, is the shame and "absurd discrimination" suffered by lepers. There will be no victory over leprosy until "the concept of the indelible 'mark of infamy' is eliminated."

  Cardinal Lozano underscores the Holy Father's remarks on January 21 to members of the council as they celebrated their plenary that Church leaders must pay special attention "to those (health) structures where the patient suffers forms of marginalization and a lack of social support," especially "in those parts of the world where the ill, notwithstanding medical progress, lack medicines and adequate assistance."

  Noting that "there is no lack of medicines," and that there are various world organisms that specialize in treating leprosy, the council president emphasizes, however, the need for more adequate health structures and competent, well-trained personnel. Quoting statistics from national episcopal conferences for the year 2003, he pointed out that, worldwide, the Church runs 656 leprosariums (Africa 254, Americas 69, Asia 327, Europe 4, Oceania 2).

  Referring to the Year of the Eucharist, Cardinal Lozano quotes Pope John Paul's "Mane nobiscum Domine": "The Eucharist is not only an expression of communion in the life of the Church; it is also a project of solidarity for all of mankind."

  He had special thanks for those "missionaries who care for these brothers of ours, fulfilling the specific pastoral ministry of 'the Gospel of Hope'. They are living and teaching the entire world that taking care of a body so afflicted is fraternal sharing and at the same time a communication of faith in Christ Who died and arose. A 'sign' of hope and the total victory of life."

  "In the mystery of the 'Mystical Body of the Church'," says the Message, "in union with the suffering Christ, the leper will feel at the center of the project of cooperation in the salvation of mankind,"  especially with the help of those missionaries who care for them.
CON-AVA/WORLD DAY LEPROSY/LOZANO            VIS 20050131 (410)

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