Final preparations are underway in Adelaide, Australia for the commemoration of the 14th World Day of the Sick, which will take place on February 11 under the theme, “Mental Health and Human Dignity.”
Pope Benedict XVI chose the city to host World Day of the Sick and said that the occasion is a chance for the Church to express her “particular concern for those who suffer, bringing to the attention of public opinion the problems linked with mental illness, which affects one-fifth of humanity and constitutes a real and true social and health emergency.”
Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide sent a pastoral letter to Catholics reminding them that the theme of the event “expresses our profound conviction of the supreme value of human life and the respect due to each person, regardless of their state of health. It is a chance to reflect on the presence of god in each one of us. It also represents an occasion for all those who work in the field of health care to reflect upon their own work, which can be lived out as a continuation of the healing mission of Jesus.”
Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, is the Holy See’s special envoy to the event. After his arrival in Adelaide, he visited patients at the Calvary Health Care Catholic hospital. He is scheduled to participate in a symposium on the theme of this year’s World Day of the Sick and will preside at the closing Mass at the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier.
According to the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on Special Indulgences granted to the members of faithful on the occasion of the Fourteenth World Day of the Sick,
Pope Benedict XVI has granted a “plenary indulgence to the members of faithful who, under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff), and with a spirit that is detached from any sin, on next February 11, take part devoutly, in the cathedral of Adelaide or any other place established by the ecclesiastical Authority, in some holy ceremony celebrated to implore from God the achievement of the aims of the ‘World Day of the Sick’.”
The indulgence can also be obtained by “Members of the faithful who in public hospitals or in any private home charitably assist as ‘good Samaritans’ the sick, especially those who because of some mental disability require greater patience, diligence and attention, and, because of their service cannot take part in a ceremony indicated above, will obtain the same gift of the plenary indulgence if on that day they will at least for an hour generously give their assistance to the sick. Likewise, those who “who because of illness, advanced age or a similar reason, are impeded from taking part in a ceremony indicated above,” will also be able to obtain the indulgence.
The Holy Father has also granted “a partial indulgence to all the members of the faithful who, from next February 9 to 11, at any time, with contrite heart, address to merciful God devout prayers to implore the achievement of the above aims to help the sick.”