.- Today in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. Pope Benedict told the Pontifical Council, which is led by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, that pastoral health care is truly an important field of evangelization, intimately connected with the healing ministry of Jesus.
“Health pastoral care is, in fact, an evangelical field par excellence that immediately calls to mind the work of Jesus, the Good Samaritan of humankind…Who always accompanied His preaching with the signs He worked upon the sick," the Pope said.
"The health of man, of all of man, was the sign that Jesus chose to express the proximity of God and His merciful love that heals the spirit, the soul and the body," the Holy Father emphasized.
The Pope called on healthcare workers, in all their activities, to remember Christ, Who is presented by the Gospels as the "divine doctor," and he added: "Helping human beings is a duty, both as a response to a fundamental right ... and because the cure of individuals works for the benefit of the community as a whole.”
"Modern science progresses in as much as it accepts the constant discussion of diagnoses and treatment methods, on the supposition that existing data and supposed limits can be overcome," he added.
"Moreover, respect for and faith in healthcare workers is proportional to the conviction that these defenders of life will never despise a human existence, however handicapped it may be, and will always ... encourage attempts at a cure.”
"The commitment to treatment must, then, be extended to all human beings,” the Holy Father emphasized.
“This ethical perspective, based on the dignity of the human person and on the fundamental rights and duties connected thereto, is confirmed and strengthened by the commandment to love, the heart of the Christian message."
"Charity as a duty of the Church," said Pope Benedict, "has a particularly significant application in the care of the sick. The history of the Church bears witness to this with innumerable cases of men and women ... who have worked in this field."
Benedict XVI completed his talk by recalling the importance of the Eucharist, from which healthcare ministry can draw "the strength to help man effectively and promote him in accordance with his dignity.”
“The Eucharist, administered decorously and prayerfully to the sick, is a vital lymph that comforts them and gives their souls the interior light necessary to live their infirmity and suffering with faith and hope," the Vicar of Christ concluded.