Time of Illness Needs Signs of Hope, Says Pope

Addresses Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 21, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says that the Church is called to address the most delicate questions that arise «in the human spirit in the face of suffering, sickness and death.»

The Pope said this in an address today to 60 members of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, which held its plenary assembly and celebrated its 20th anniversary this week.

«In faith in Christ, dead and risen, the questions find the consolation of hope that does not disappoint,» the Holy Father e added.

«The present world, which often does not have the light of this hope, suggests solutions of death — hence the urgency to promote a New Evangelization and an intense testimony of active faith in these extensive secularized areas,» he continued.

The Pope encouraged the pontifical council to continue its reflection and programs on «the sanctification of the time of sickness and the special role of the sick in the Church and in the family, in virtue of Christ’s living presence in every person who suffers.»

John Paul II also made suggestions for taking advantage of the Year of the Eucharist.

He urged «more intense pastoral commitment in the administration, both of the viaticum as well as the anointing of the sick,» which «enable the sick person and the community of believers to experience the consolation that comes from supernatural hope.»

«However, this should not dispense those responsible in the Church from stimulating active attention to the structures in which the sick sometimes suffer from forms of marginalization and lack of social support,» the Pope added.

«This care must also be extended to areas of the world in which, despite the progress in medicine, the sick in greatest need continue to lack medicines and proper care,» he indicated.

In addition, «the Church must pay special attention to those areas of the world in which AIDS patients lack care,» the Holy Father added.

To address this need John Paul II recently established the Good Samaritan Foundation, which aims to offer financial support to needy patients, especially AIDS sufferers.

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