Pontiff Urges Greater Commitment to Mentally Ill

Publishes Message for World Day of the Sick

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- Benedict XVI focused on the challenges of the mentally ill and their families in his address for the 2006 World Day of the Sick.

In his message dated Dec. 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope says that new forms of mental instability are a result of the negative influence of the crisis of values and loneliness.

In countries of high economic development, «experts recognize that the origin of new forms of mental disturbance» is a consequence of «the negative impact of the crisis of moral values,» he writes.

«This increases the sense of loneliness, undermining and even breaking down traditional forms of social cohesion, beginning with the institution of the family, and marginalizing the sick, and especially the mentally ill, who are often seen as a burden for their families and the community,» states the Holy Father.

The Pope adds: «[T]he prolongation of armed conflicts in various areas of the world, the succession of terrible natural catastrophes, and the spread of terrorism, in addition to causing a shocking number of deaths, have also created mental traumas in not a few survivors, whose recovery at times is difficult.»

Benedict XVI encourages «the efforts of those who work to ensure that all mentally ill people are given access to necessary forms of care and treatment,» and solidarity with families caring for the mentally ill.

Addressing the mentally ill themselves, the Pontiff invites them to offer their «condition of suffering, together with Christ, to the Father.»

Solidarity

Moreover, the Pope says, the Church «will not fail to offer you her own help, being well aware that she is called to express the love and care of Christ for those who suffer and for those who look after them.»

Pope John Paul II formally instituted the World Day of the Sick in 1992, and the first day was observed Feb. 11, 1993, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The main events of the world day are always celebrated on Feb. 11, though the location varies. In 2006 the event will be held in Adelaide, Australia.

Benedict XVI will be represented at the celebrations in Adelaide, which will be held at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, by a special envoy to be named.

The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers is responsible for organizing the event, in collaboration with Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide.

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