.- Pope Benedict paid a visit yesterday to the Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem. In his address, he praised the staff for their charity and assured the patients that he "spiritually accompanies" them each day in his "thoughts and prayers."
The hospital, founded in 1952 is supported by the "Kinderhilfe Bethlehem" Association as well as the German and Swiss episcopal conferences.
Before greeting the medical and administrative staff, and the Franciscan Elizabethan Sisters of Padua who help care for the patients, the Pope visited the chapel and the maternity ward.
Addressing the young patients and their families, the Holy Father noted that while today he is with them in person, each day he "spiritually accompanies" them in his "thoughts and prayers, asking the Almighty to watch over you with His tender care."
He also acknowledged the growth of the hospital since it was founded. Caritas "brings together people of different origins, languages and religions, in the name of the Reign of God, the Kingdom of Peace. I heartily encourage you to persevere in your mission of showing charity to all the sick, the poor and the weak."
Being the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the Holy Father invoked the Virgin Mary: "May love triumph over hatred, solidarity over division, and peace over every form of violence!" And he concluded: "We ask your Son Jesus to bless these children and all children who suffer throughout the world."