Official Reflects on Church's Mission in Health Care

Pontifical Council Marks 25 Years

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 5, 2010 ( The Church’s ministry in the field of health care is important not only because of its ethical contribution, but also because it advocates for the adequate care of the suffering.

This observation was made today by the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, at a press conference explaining the events that will mark the dicastery’s 25th anniversary.

The council was established by Pope John Paul II on Feb. 11, 1985, with «Dolentium Hominum.»

A conference on «The Church in the Service of Love for the Suffering» will be held Feb. 9-11 in Rome, as part of the anniversary celebrations.

On the World Day of the Sick, Feb. 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, there will be a procession with the relics of St. Bernadette. When the procession arrives to St. Peter’s Square, Benedict XVI will bless them from the window of his study. That day, the Holy Father will also preside over a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

An art exhibit by Francesco Guadagnuolo is also part of the event, as is a classical music concert.

Mandate of baptism

The pontifical council supports some 117,000 Catholic health care organizations that exist around the world.

In its 25 years, it has had three presidents: Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, now 94, who will address the «Love for the Suffering» conference on the theme of «Dolentium Hominum.» 

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán was the second president of the dicastery; and Archbishop Zimowski, who was appointed last year, is the third.

The council encourages health professionals to integrate «their own professional capacities in the medical field with the specific mandate of baptism and in respect of man created in the image and likeness of God,» Archbishop Zimowski said.

The dicastery’s secretary, Bishop José Luis Redrado Marchite, who has worked in the council virtually since its establishment, also spoke at the press conference. 

«In the first stage with [Cardinal] Angelini we entered a forest, cut down and cleared the way,» he observed. «Then a second president came [Cardinal Lozano Barragan], who made the way. Now a third has come who is taking us to the celebration of 25 years.»

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