On Sunday morning, Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit to Saint Matthew’s Hospital in Pavia. After meeting with workers and patients, the Holy Father gave a short speech in which he acknowledged the tremendous gift of scientific progress, but called for a corresponding growth in the respect for fundamental human values, such as a respect for life.
The Pope began his talk by wishing everyone present his “personal closeness and solidarity, with a spiritual embrace for the sick, the suffering and all those who find themselves in difficulty in your diocese.” In addition, Benedict wished to offer “words of encouragement and hope.”
Calling hospitals a “sacred” place, the Pope continued by explaining that hospitals are “where one experiences the fragility of human nature, but also the enormous potential and resources of man’s ingenuity and technology at the service of life.” This life, His Holiness affirmed, “no matter how much we explore it, always remains a mystery.”
The Holy Father emphasized that all scientific and technological progress must, “be constantly accompanied by the desire to promote, together with the good of the sick, also fundamental values, like the respect and defense of life in all its stages.”
Interrupting himself briefly, the Pope mentioned how he began “spontaneously to think about Jesus, Who, during His existence on Earth, always showed particular attention for the suffering.” He also found himself thinking “about the first Christian community, where, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles these days, many were healed after the preaching of the Apostles.”
The Pope told those present to use their illness for their own sanctification, since “it has always been true that when one welcomes it [illness] with love and is illuminated by faith, it becomes a precious occasion for uniting oneself in a mysterious way to Christ the Redeemer.”
Closing his speech, His Holiness said that he would remember all those present in his prayers, and prayed “so that most holy Mary, Salus infirmorum (Health of the Sick), may protect you and your families, the directors, doctors, and the entire community of the Hospital.”