Friday, February 01, 2013

World Day of the Sick, rediscovering and experiencing the spirit of "being a good neighbour"

The World Day of the Sick, which, according to tradition, is celebrated every February 11, "is not meant to be reduced to a mere external focus on laudable initiatives, but wants to reach out to consciences."

This Year of Faith is " a favourable opportunity to rediscover and experience the spirit and being a good neighbor in imitation of the Good Samaritan " in being able to see "with compassion" and love those who need help and care, in being able to bend down and take care of the needs of others with loving care".

The Day is both "for the patients themselves and their families, for health professionals, for Christians and all people of good will.  It is a particular moment of reflection, renewed attention and commitment by all to the problems related to the care of life, health and suffering". 

This was the central meaning of the recent message by Pope Benedict XVI, as pointed out this morning in the Vatican by Msgr. Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for health care professionals (for the Pastoral Care of Healthcare workers), at the presentation of the program for the upcoming World Day, which this year will be celebrated at the Marian shrine of Altötting, Germany.

The Pope's message, centred on the Good Samaritan "emphasizing the conclusion of the parable, when Jesus after leading his party to recognize who had acted as a" neighbour" towards the injured and abandoned on the street, ends with a mandate: 'Go and do likewise".

"An incisive 'mandate', because with these words the Lord today shows us the attitude and behaviour his disciples should have towards others, especially when in need of care."

"As a result, it is both the calling and duty of every Christian to be a Good Samaritan, which is every man who stops beside the suffering of another man, every man who is sensitive to the suffering of others, who is moved by the misfortune of another, every man who seeks and wants to be 'God's hands.' "

In the 20 years since the establishment of the World Day, said Msgr. Jean-Marie Mupendawatu, secretary of the Pontifical Council, the global situation is still beset by the problems outlined at the time by Pope John Paul II, "problems specific to different continents but united together by the neglect of the centrality of the patient: if in Africa, Latin America and Asia it is still possible to die from serious and persistent deficiencies in health care, the same can not be said for Europe, North America and Oceania, where, in the face of high-tech care, a fair and equal access to health care is denied. "

Bishop Mupendawatu, particularly noted what Benedict XVI had said in November, when he called the Christian medical world to bear witness to a new evangelization, saying that "This commitment to a new evangelization also in times of economic crisis, which diverts resources from health care. Precisely in this context, hospitals and health care facilities must rethink their role to ensure that healthcare,  does not become a mere 'commodity', reserved for the few, subject to the laws of the market, rather than a universal right to secure and defend. The close attention due to the dignity of the suffering person, in the context of health policy the principle of subsidiarity and solidarity must never be forgotten (cf. Enc. Caritas in Veritate, 58) . "

For this reason, as part of the World Day visits to the sick and their families in care and suffering are also planned, as well as meetings with chaplains and health professionals and the voluntary associations and movements.

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