VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II said sickness offers Christians the opportunity to show the world that the value of human life endures even in times of difficulty.
Greeting hundreds of people who were sick, aged or had disabilities at a Mass on February 11 in St Peter’s Basilica, he said believers who prayerfully accept their sufferings as part of God’s plan make a valuable spiritual contribution to the Church.
The Pope said the Church’s celebration of World Day of the Sick, coinciding with the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, also reminded Christians that “next to every suffering person there must stand a brother or sister animated by charity”.
The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar of the Diocese of Rome.
The 81 year-old pontiff arrived afterwards to deliver a brief talk and later spent more than half an hour greeting sick children and adults, in wheelchairs or on the arms of health care workers.
“Human life is a gift from God and should always be seen that way, even in more critical situations,” the Pope said.