Church's Aid to the Sick in Africa Is Emphasized

Pope Relays a Message to Bishops Meeting in Benin

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 2, 2005 ( A key mission of solidarity of the Church in Africa is to serve the continent’s sick, the Holy See told a group of bishops meeting in Benin to discuss health challenges.

That was part of the message sent on behalf of Benedict XVI by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State, to the French- and Portuguese-speaking bishops of Africa who met in Cotonou.

It was read at the meeting by Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali, vice president of the Regional Episcopal Conference for French-speaking West Africa (CERAO).

The message encouraged the continuation of efforts to reinforce health structures and programs in Africa.

In the letter, made public by Vatican Radio, Archbishop Sandri said that the Pope invites Christians, especially those involved in health services, to renew their adherence to Christ, whose face is manifested in the face of every suffering person.

«In Christ, dead and risen for the integral salvation of man and all men, the Church finds the source of her healing ministry and the hope of authentic and divine health,» affirmed the message.

Reminding the bishops of the current Year of the Eucharist, Archbishop Sandri invited them, in the Pope’s name, to «commit themselves with fraternal actions in the struggle against every form of sickness that affects man and today’s society,» as «in this way Christ’s authentic disciples will be recognized.»

The CERAO promoted the meeting in cooperation with Medicus Mundi International, with the participation of pastoral agents, health professionals and representatives of African governments.

Solidarity with Africa has been one of the topics most emphasized in public by Benedict XVI during the first weeks of his pontificate.

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