Yaoundé Will Be Capital of Church's Fight Against AIDS

Program for World Day of the Sick

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Key celebrations of the 13th World Day of the Sick took place at the Shrine of Mary Queen of Apostles in Yaoundé, Cameroon, having as its focus the fight against AIDS.

Concern for this pandemic is the main theme of John Paul II’s message for the World Day. To celebrate the Feb. 9-11 event on African soil «will give the opportunity to manifest a concrete solidarity to the peoples of that continent, weighed down» by health care needs, the Pope explained.

The World Day will also represent «a further step in implementing the commitment that Christians of Africa assumed 10 years ago, when the 3rd World Day of the Sick was celebrated, to be ‘Good Samaritans’ to their brothers and sisters who are going through difficult situations,» he said.

«Jesus Christ, Hope for Africa — Youth, Health and AIDS» is the theme of the 13th World Day of the Sick; the program of events will be divided in three parts, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers explained to ZENIT.

On Wednesday, Feb. 9, the solemn opening of the World Day will take place.

It will be followed by the addresses of the president of the Cameroonian episcopal conference, Bishop Cornelius Esua; the representative of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya; the director of the World Health Organization, Lee Jong-wook; the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán; and the president of Cameroon, Paul Biya.

Planned as a «pastoral day,» Cardinal Lozano Barragán will speak later on «Health Care Ministry: What It Should Be,» while the Episcopate of Cameroon will address «The Situation of Health Care Ministry in Africa.» At the end of the day Mass will be celebrated at Notre Dame des Victoires Cathedral. Also planned is a debate with experts.

On Feb. 10, a «doctrinal and scientific day» is scheduled. Among the speakers will be an AIDS patient, Catholic health agents, and a religious who looks after AIDS patients.

SECAM will address the topic «The Church in Africa and AIDS: Pastoral Guidelines,» while Cardinal Lozano Barragán will speak on «AIDS in the Church’s Pastoral Care Program.»

A «Marshall Plan to Combat AIDS» will also be presented. A round-table discussion, with a sociologist, psychologist, theologian and doctor, will focus on «youth and AIDS.»

Much of the «Liturgical Day» on Feb. 11 will be taken up with a visit to Catholic hospitals. In the afternoon, the solemn welcome of the Pope’s envoy to the World Day of the Sick is scheduled at the Marian Shrine of Mvolye. There will also be a reception for the president of the republic.

John Paul II’s message will be read, followed by a solemn Mass including the anointing of the sick. The final declaration will be issued at the closing ceremony.

The Holy Father instituted the World Day of the Sick with a pontifical letter dated May 13, 1992. The World Day is observed in a different place each Feb. 11, feast of the Virgin of Lourdes.

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