.- During its 25th anniversary celebrations, the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers announced that the Catholic Church manages 26 percent of health care facilities in the world. According to a press release, the Church has “117,000 health care facilities, including hospitals, clinics, orphanages,” as well as “18,000 pharmacies and 512 centers” for the care of those with leprosy.
In the statement, the president of the council, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, added that as a part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, which are taking place February 9-11, Pope Benedict will celebrate Mass on Thursday at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Thursday, February 11 is also the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 18th World Day of the Sick.
Following Mass, Archbishop Zimowski, along with the mayor of Rome, the sick and several volunteers, will take part in a Eucharistic procession carrying relics of St. Bernadette and a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The route will run the half-mile from Castel Sant'Angelo to St. Peter's Square, where the Pope will impart upon them the Apostolic blessing from the window of the papal apartment.
In this same spirit, a concert will be held today at the Paul VI Hall with Claudia Koll as host and performances by pianists Rolf-Peter Wille of Germany and Lina Yeh of Taiwan.
An international symposium will also take place today at the New Hall of the Synod on two apostolic letters: “Salvifici Doloris” by John Paul II and the motu propio “Dolentium Hominum” with which the late Pontiff instituted the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.
The event's theme will be, “The Church at the service of love for those who suffer,” which was chosen by the Holy Father in his message for the World Day of the Sick 2010.
More than 500 people from 35 different countries are expect to participate.