Day of the Sick "Message of Consolation," Pope Says

Principal Celebrations Planned for Washington, D.C.

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 9, 2003 ( John Paul II says that the World Day of the Sick,which will be observed Feb. 11, offers a message of consolation to those who suffer and a motive for reflection and encouragement to those dedicated to their service.

Meeting with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus, the Pope characterized the Day of the Sick as a «significant occasion, which helps ecclesial communities to remain always very attentive toward sick and suffering brothers and sisters, and encourages health workers to attend to their professional services with constant devotion.»

The World Day of the Sick, instituted by John Paul II in 1992, is observed every year on the occasion of the liturgical memorial of the Virgin of Lourdes, a date that recalls «the constant message of confidence and hope» associated with the apparitions in southern France in 1858.

«I express my appreciation to doctors and nurses, as well as to social assistants, volunteers, priests, men and women religious who work in the vast field of assistance to the sick. May the Day of the Sick renew in each one the desire to serve with devotion those who suffer, imitating Jesus, Good Samaritan of humanity,» the Pope said.

John Paul II’s legate to the celebrations is Mexican Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

Cardinal Lozano, on behalf of the Holy Father, will preside over the concluding Mass on Feb. 11 in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C.

The Pope’s message to the 2003 World Day of the Sick states that «it is particularly urgent» that Catholic hospitals reflect on their identity, so that they will become «centers of life and hope,» even on the financial and organizational level.

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