Love Should Mark Hospitals, Cardinal Says

Health Care Council Studies Pastoral Ministry

VATICAN CITY, MAY 10, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Catholic hospitals should be notable for Christian love and be places where suffering is endured while the joy of the resurrection is proclaimed, says a Vatican official.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, said this during the international congress on “Updating Pastoral Ministry in Catholic Hospitals.”

That dicastery organized the 3rd International Congress of the International Association of Catholic Health Care Institutions (AISAC) in the Vatican last Thursday through Saturday.

Cardinal Lozano Barragán opened the conference with a talk on “The Identity of Catholic Hospitals in Light of the Encyclical ‘Deus Caritas Est.'”

“The exercise of Christian charity toward the sick” must be the distinguishing mark of Catholic hospitals, the cardinal said.

“The proclamation of the Good News in the field of health care is a paradox: While we deal with suffering, we proclaim the joy of the Risen One,” he said during an interview on Vatican Radio.

Father Michael Place, the president of AISAC, said the meeting will help give a response “to the Holy Father’s invitation to update pastoral efforts in health care. It must be renewed, according to his pastoral plan.”

The meeting discussions underlined the need to “work to strengthen the Catholic identity in health care, so that our beliefs can be translated into action,” a goal which requires “better juridical and religious formation,” Father Place told Vatican Radio.

According to statistics from the Vatican dicastery, there are 22,000 Catholic health care institutions in the world. Of these, 37% are run by religious orders, 19% belong to dioceses and the rest belong to other Catholic organizations.

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