The Pope rallied support for those in need of social assistance as he visited Nen Deu, an institution for poor, sick or needy children in Barcelona, Spain.
Nen Deu is Catalan for “Child of God.”
After being treated to a song from the children on the afternoon of Nov. 7, the Pope thanked authorities and individuals who work for the care of those most in need. He called the government in particular to step up its efforts in providing social services and assistance.
"At a time when many households are faced with serious economic difficulties, the followers of Christ must multiply concrete gestures of effective and constant solidarity, showing in this way that charity is the hallmark of our Christian life," he said in Catalan.
Then speaking in Spanish, he recalled the dedication of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia earlier that morning which highlighted that "churches are the sign of the true sanctuary of God among men."
He emphasized that "through the efforts of this and similar church institutions ... it is clear that, for the Christian, every man and woman is a true sanctuary of God, and should be treated with the highest respect and affection, above all when they are in need."
The Church wishes to put the message from the Gospel: “I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me," into practice, he said. The Pope also remembered the many members of the Church who have dedicated themselves completely to teaching, assistance and the care of the sick and the disabled.
"Inspired by their example," he said, "I ask you to continue to provide loving care to the smallest and the most needy, giving them the very best of yourselves."
Turning to the medical advancements in this context, he underscored that "it is indispensable that new technological developments in the field of medicine never be to the detriment of respect for human life and dignity, so that those who suffer physical illnesses or handicaps can always receive that love and attention required to make them feel valued as persons in their concrete needs."
He told the children and young people that they have a "special place in the Pope's heart." The Pontiff noted that prays for them every day as well as for all who work on their behalf.
"I always remember in my prayers those who are dedicated to helping the suffering, and those who work tirelessly so that the handicapped can take their rightful place in society and not be marginalized because of their limitations."
Pope Benedict recognized priests and those who visit the sick at home or in institutions, saying that "they incarnate that important ministry of consolation in the face of human frailty, which the Church seeks to carry out in imitation of the Good Samaritan."
The Pontiff concluded the visit by blessing the first stone of the new residence for the children of Nen Deu, which will take his name. From the facility, he made his way back to the airport to meet with Spanish president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero before departing for the Vatican.
The Pope’s full address at Nen Deu can be found here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/spain10/resource.php?res_id=1450