Pope Benedict XVI is having his message for this year's World Day of the Sick published in Arabic for the very first time.
"The Holy Father probably wants to transmit a message on this day to
the Syrian people because it's the first time that his message will be
published in Arabic," said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers.
The Pope's message, drafted in several languages, is centered on the
Good Samaritan. It is titled "Go and you, too, do the same," and was
released at a Jan. 29 press conference in Rome.
The World Day of the Sick is observed annually on Feb. 11 for the feast
of Our Lady of Lourdes, and this year it will be held at the Marian
shrine of Altötting in Bavaria, Germany.
"The World Day of the Sick was created by Blessed John Paul II 20 years ago," explained Archbishop Zimowski.
"Pope John Paul II, a suffering man among the suffering, wanted for
suffering to be seen close to Jesus Christ, who suffered for us for our
salvation," the archbishop reflected. "He wanted that God's people become more sensitive to the sick and the
suffering and that those suffering find a deeper meaning to their
Archbishop Zimowski noted that John Paul II wrote about the Good
Samaritan and he taught that “doing good to those who suffer is doing
good from one's own suffering.”
For the upcoming World Day of the Sick, the archbishop explained that
Pope Benedict is helping people see the good Samaritans of our times.
"The message relates to those who have suffered for others like Saint
Therese of the Child Jesus and Anna Schäffer, a Bavarian saint that
offered her life for all humanity," Archbishop Zimowski stated.
"These Good Samaritans offer their time, their heart, and their money
to those who suffer, and we recall Mother Teresa of Calcutta and several
others," he added.
"Each one of us can and must be a Good Samaritan among us, and when we
have to suffer, we need to, through our suffering, do good to the world
and to humanity," the archbishop said.
Father Jansusz Surzykiewicz, a priest who teaches psychology and
theology at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, is also
concerned with spiritual health being neglected or forgotten in Germany.
"Many Germans say they are spiritual and want to have spiritual support
even though they don't want to belong to an institution like the
Church," he remarked.
He believes that one way to address this would be for hospitals and
institutions to focus on improving patients’ spiritual well-being.
"There is a kind of evidence that this is important because people who
believe in God are better patients, cope better with stress, and have
more confidence within their families," Fr. Surzykiewicz asserted.
The Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt will host a conference
Feb. 7 – 8 with the head of German doctors and a professor in philosophy
and medicine as guest speakers to discuss how spiritual health can be
introduced in German health care.