World Day of Sick Gives Hope to Africa

Fight Against AIDS, Poverty Is Urgent

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YAOUNDE, Cameroon, FEB. 13, 2005 ( The celebrations of the 13th World Day of the Sick culminated at the shrine of Mary Queen of the Apostles in Mvolye, Cameroon.

During the Mass on Friday, a message was read sent by John Paul II in French, in which he encouraged the «dear sick brothers and sisters, who bear in your bodies the signs of pain and frailty,» as well as to their families, «involved directly in their lives.»

The Pope regarded as significant that this year the day be hosted in Africa, a «continent marked by many and grave problems, but also rich in extraordinary human and spiritual resources and animated by an intense desire for peace and authentic progress.» The Pope choose «Jesus Christ, Hope for Africa. Youth, Health, AIDS» as the theme.

«Africa suffers due the presence of many sick people who silently invoke the solidarity of the whole world,» stated the papal message.

The Pope reminded the sick that «Jesus is the Man who knows suffering,» and invited them in the Year of the Eucharist to unite themselves «with mind and heart to the sacrifice of the Mass, inexhaustible source of hope in every trial of life.»

The eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Pope’s special envoy to Cameroon, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

In the homily, the cardinal confirmed the Church’s determination to offer its material, spiritual and moral contribution in response to the great challenges Africa is going through, in particular in the area of health.

«In celebrating the Eucharist, culmination of the Day of the Sick, we make present in Africa and for the whole of Africa the reality of the curing of illness with the power of Christ the savior,» said the cardinal as reported by Vatican Radio.

The papal legate appealed to all political leaders in the world for arms to be silenced, origin of great sufferings and illnesses for the peoples of Africa.

«Let us work, therefore, together to build peace and facilitate the social, political, and economic development of which Africa is in urgent need,» said the papal envoy.

At the conclusion of the celebrations, Archbishop Simon-Victor Tonyé Bakot of Yaounde, president of the episcopal conference of Cameroon, emphasized that on this occasion the Africa of poverty, sickness, tuberculosis, and AIDS made an appointment with the suffering and risen Christ to regain hope.

This annual day dedicated to the sick was instituted by John Paul II in 1992. The main celebrations take place every year in a different country on Feb. 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

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