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Pope’s Video Message for Opening of New Health Center in Central African Republic

‘The suffering of children is, without a doubt, the hardest to accept.’

Pope Francis on March 2, 2019, sent a video message to mark the opening of a new Health Center, specializing in the treatment of malnourished children, and the restructured building of the Paediatric Complex of the capital’s Paediatric Hospital, in Bangui, in the Central African Republic.

The new Center and the restructured area, desired by Pope Francis, was also supported by various initiatives of solidarity and collection of funds, and completely entrusted to the planning and care of the Bambino Gesu Hospital.

The Papal Almoner, H.E. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, officiated at the opening. Attending the inauguration ceremony were the President of the Bambino Gesu, Dr. Mariella Enoc; the Apostolic Nuncio of the Central African Republic, H.E. Monsignor Santiago De Wit Guzman; the President of the Central African Republic, H.E. Mr. Faustin-Archane Touadera, and other political authorities.

Here is a translation of the Video-Message that the Holy Father Francis sent on the occasion of the event.

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 The Holy Father’s Video-Message

 Dear Friends of the Paediatric Hospital of Bangui,

I greet you all joyfully on the festive occasion of the inauguration of the new health structure dedicated in fact to the children of the Central African Republic. This Center is born with the support of the “Bambino Gesu” pediatric Hospital, committed since the spring of 2016 in the formation of the medical staff and not only that. I hope that it will be able to become a Center of excellence, where children can find rest and relief from their sufferings, with tenderness and love. I don’t forget. I keep in my heart the eyes of pain of so many malnourished children that I met on my brief visit to the Hospital, on the occasion of my trip to your country. And I also remember the words of the Doctor who was next to me: “These, in the majority, will die, because they have a bad case of malaria and are malnourished.” I heard it. No, this must not happen anymore! The suffering of children is, without a doubt, the hardest to accept. The great Dostoyevsky asked the question: “Why do children suffer?” I ask myself the same thing so many times: why do children suffer? And I don’t find an explanation. I only look at the Crucifix and invoke the Father’s merciful love for so much suffering.

This structure, which is inaugurated today, is a concrete sign of mercy, which finds its origin in the Holy Year that I wished to open in advance — on November 29, 2015 — precisely at Bangui. The first door of a Cathedral to open was that of Bangui, not Saint Peter’s. It was a gesture that the Lord inspired. Crossing the Holy Door of the Cathedral, I affirmed: “Bangui becomes the spiritual capital of prayer for the Father’s mercy. All of us ask for peace, mercy, reconciliation, forgiveness <and>love.” I like to think that that Holy Door is still open and that the river of mercy gives vital lymph to this Paediatric Hospital and to all those that will work there. Always remember: “There are so many signs of goodness and tenderness given to the littlest and the defenseless, to the most alone and abandoned.  There are truly protagonists of charity who do not let the poorest and most unhappy lack solidarity (Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera, 17).

Therefore, I encourage all of you to carry out your work of the care of children, spurred by charity, always thinking of the “Good Samaritan” of the Gospel: be attentive to the needs of your little ones, bend down with tenderness on their fragility and may you be able to see the Lord in them. One who serves the sick with love serves Jesus, who opens to us the Kingdom of Heaven. This Hospital reminds all of us that the time we are living  “is the time of mercy for all those that are weak and vulnerable, far and alone, may they be able to receive the presence of brothers and sisters who support them in their need” (Ibid., 21).

Dear brothers and sisters, in exercising your medical profession, be craftsmen of mercy!

A deferent greeting goes to Mister President Faustin-Archange Toudera. I also greet the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Santiago De Wit Guzman and the President of the Bambino Gesu Hospital, Mrs. Mariella Enoc, who spent herself so much for this work. And my greeting goes to Cardinal Konrad [Krajewski], who renders the Pope’s charity present in the world.

One who takes care of little ones is on God’s side. Don’t forget it: one who takes care of little ones is on God’s side and defeats the throwaway culture! May this new Hospital be able to become a model and point of reference for the whole country. Remember: Christ is in the sick and in the love of one who bends over their wounds is the way to find Him!

I bless you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me! Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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