In preparation for the 17th World Day of the Sick on February 11, the Holy Father released his annual message on Saturday. In his new missive, the Pope encourages Christian communities to care for children who are “sick and suffering,” those struggling with “incapacitating illnesses” and youth living in dangerous conditions.
Pope Benedict begins by describing the plight of suffering children around the world:
“There are children who have been injured in body and mind by wars, and other innocent victims of the mindless hatred of adults. There are street children who are denied the warmth of family life and left to themselves, and minors profaned by sordid individuals who wish to violate their innocence, inflicting psychological wounds which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Nor must we forget the countless minors who die of thirst, hunger and lack of healthcare, and the young exiles who emigrate from their own land with their parents in search of better living conditions.”
The children caught in these deplorable circumstances “raise a silent cry of pain that appeals to our conscience as human beings and believers,” the Pope writes, adding that it is the “duty of the Christian community to intervene in such dramatic circumstances.”
"Daily dedication and ceaseless commitment in the service of sick children are an eloquent testimony of love for human life, especially for the lives of the weak and of those entirely dependent upon others,” the Holy Father continues. “Though time may pass, the teaching incessantly proclaimed by the Church remains unchanged: human life is beautiful and must be lived to the full even when it is weak and enveloped by the mystery of suffering."
Pope Benedict then reflects on the teachings of his predecessor, John Paul II who “gave a shining example in his patient acceptance of his own suffering.”
In particular, Benedict XVI highlights a passage from John Paul II that reads: 'On this Cross is the Redeemer of man, the Man of Sorrows, Who has taken upon himself the physical and moral sufferings of the people of all times, so that in love they may find the salvific meaning of their sorrow and valid answers to all of their questions'."
Ending his message, the Holy Father expresses his gratitude to the organizations “that care for sick children with generosity and self-sacrifice,” and sends his special greetings to all the children who are sick and suffering.
“The Pope embraces you, your parents and your families with paternal affection, and assures you of a special mention in his prayer, inviting you to trust in the maternal assistance of Mary Immaculate," he writes.