Today the Holy Father reminded members of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, that the aim of the Council is to “spread the Gospel of Christian hope in the vast world of those who suffer and those called to care for them."
The Pope welcomed sixty members of the Council to the Vatican for their plenary session, and noted that 2005 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the council.
This period, he added, "will also be for you a stimulus to a renewed commitment in translating into action your programs for 'spreading, explaining and defending the teachings of the Church in matters of health and favoring their dissemination into health care practices', according to the Motu Proprio 'Dolentium hominum' which established the council."
The Holy Father said that, "the Church, in her pastoral action, is called to face the most delicate and inescapable questions that arise in the human soul in the face of suffering, sickness and death.”
It is from faith in Christ, Who died and rose from the dead, that those questions can find the comfort of hope that does not delude.”
The world today, he continued, “which often does not have the light of this hope, suggests solutions of death. Thus, the urgency to promote a new evangelization and a strong witness of active faith in these many secularized areas."
"The Pontifical Council," he continued, "does well, therefore, to focus its reflections and programs on the sanctification of the period of sickness and on the special role that sick people play in the Church and in the family by virtue of the living presence of Christ in every suffering person."
Church leaders, said John Paul II, also have a responsibility to pay attention "to the structures where the sick person suffers some form of marginalization and lack of social support.”
This attention must also be extended to those areas of the world where the neediest sick people, notwithstanding medical progress, lack medicines and adequate assistance, The Church must have a special concern for those areas of the world where AIDS patients have no assistance.”
“For this reason” the Pope continued, “the 'Good Samaritan' Foundation was created with the aim of contributing to help the most vulnerable populations with the necessary therapeutic support."