.- In a message for the World Day of the Sick, which will be celebrated on February 11 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes (France), where the Virgin appeared on the same day in 1858, Pope John Paul II said that the miracle of the Immaculate Conception is a source of hope for the suffering.
âThis shrine was chosen,â writes the Pope in the message, âbecause in 2004 the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated.â
The Pope emphasizes that with the Immaculate Conception of Mary âbegan the great work of redemption, carried out with the precious blood of Christ.â
âIf Jesus is the font of life that conquers death,â he explains, âMary is the careful mother who strives to meet the needs of her children, obtaining for them health in body and soul.â
âThis is the message that the Shrine of Lourdes constantly proposes to pilgrims and those who are devoted. This is also the meaning of the spiritual and bodily miracles that are registered in the grotto of Massabielle,â he adds.
âThe miracle of the Immaculate Conception,â the Pontiff continues, âreminds believers of a fundamental truth: it is possible to be saved only by participating docilely in the plan of the Father who wanted to redeem the world through the death and resurrection of His only son.â
âAlthough present in earthly life,â the message continues, âillness and death, nevertheless, lose their negative sense. In the light of faith, the death of the body, overcome by Christâs death, becomes the necessary passage to the fullness of immortal life.â
After emphasizing that life âmust be accepted, respected and defended from its beginning to its natural end,â John Paul II says: âNowadays we talk about âgenetic engineeringâ when referring to the extraordinary possibilities that science today offers to intervene in the sources of life. All authentic progress in this field must be encouraged as long as the rights and dignity of the person from conception are respected. No one has the right to destroy or indiscriminately manipulate human life.â