‘Disease, which is an expression of fragility, cannot and must not make us forget that in the eyes of God our value is always priceless.’
Pope Francis gave these words of comfort when addressing those suffering with Huntington’s disease and their families this morning, May 18, 2017, in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
The meeting dedicated to those with Huntington’s Disease, in solidarity with South America, where the disease is the most widespread has as its theme: ‘Hidden No More (Oculta Nunca Más, Mai Più Nascosta).’
Acknowledging that that many present had long and difficult journeys in order to be there today, Pope Francis thanked them for their presence, saying he was happy they were there.
“For far too long. the fears and difficulties that characterize the life of people affected by Huntington’s Disease have surrounded them with misunderstandings and barriers, veritably excluding them.”
In many cases, the sick and their families, Francis lamented, have experienced the tragedy of shame, isolation and abandonment.
“Today, however, we are here because we want to say to ourselves and all the world: “HIDDEN NO MORE!”, “OCULTA NUNCA MAS!”, “MAI PIU’ NASCOSTA!.
“It is not simply a slogan, so much as a commitment that we all must foster,” he underscored.
The Holy Father pointed out that the strength and conviction with which they all pronounce these words, “derive precisely from what Jesus himself taught us.”
Throughout His ministry, the Pope recalled, He met many sick people, took on their suffering, and tore down “the walls of stigma and of marginalization that prevented so many of them from feeling respected and loved.”
“For Jesus,” he reminded, “disease is never an obstacle to encountering people, but rather, the contrary.”
“He taught us that the human person is always precious, always endowed with a dignity that nothing and no one can erase, not even disease.”
“Fragility is not an ill. And disease, which is an expression of fragility, cannot and must not make us forget that in the eyes of God our value is always priceless.”
Disease, Francis also noted, can also be an opportunity for encounter, for sharing, for solidarity, adding that the sick people who encountered Jesus were restored above all by this awareness. He stressed that they felt they were listened to, respected, loved.
“May none of you ever feel you are alone; may none of you feel you are a burden; may no one feel the need to run away. You are precious in the eyes of God; you are precious in the eyes of the Church!”
Pope Francis also thanked the families present for all they do and encouraged them to continue their selfless giving.
“I encourage you, too, not to feel you are alone; not to give in to the temptation of the sense of shame or guilt. The family is the privileged place of life and of dignity, and you can cooperate to build that network of solidarity and of help that the family alone can guarantee, and which the family is first called to live.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying, “May the life of each of you — both of those who are directly affected by Huntington’s Disease and those who work hard every day to support the sick in their pain and difficulty — be a living witness to the hope that Christ has given us.”
* * *
On ZENIT’s Web page: