During his trip to San Giovanni Rotondo yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI visited patients and staff at a hospital founded by St. Padre Pio, where he spoke of the “intimate bond” that connects the Cross of Christ to our own human suffering.
Started in 1956, the "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza," or Home to Relieve Suffering, currently has beds for one thousand patients. Speaking to those present, the Pope acknowledged that sickness "raises disquieting issues” of the reason for suffering, the meaning behind it, and where to seek comfort.
“These are existential questions which usually remain unanswered in human terms because suffering is an enigma which reason cannot fathom,” the Holy Father said.
"Suffering is part of the very mystery of the human person," he went on. "Certainly we must do whatever we can to reduce suffering, ... but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power. This is simply ... because none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil, which ... is a constant source of suffering.”
Benedict explained that human questions abut suffering find their answer in God, the only One who can eliminate the power of evil. “Precisely because Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal to us the divine plan of our salvation, faith helps us penetrate the meaning of all that is human, hence also of suffering,” the Pope said.
“There exists, then, an intimate bond between the Cross of Jesus - symbol of supreme pain and price of our true freedom - and our own suffering, which is transformed and made sublime when lived with an awareness of God's closeness and solidarity."
The Holy Father pointed to Padre Pio’s example in living according to this truth. “On the first anniversary of the inauguration of this hospital, he said that 'those who suffer must experience God's love through a judicious acceptance of their own pain, through serene meditation upon their destiny in Him," said the Pope.
"May the Lord help you to fulfill the project that Padre Pio began," Benedict concluded, “with everyone making a contribution.”