Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Pope affirms "salvific" suffering

Vatican, Feb. 11 (
No one has the right deliberately to end a human life, even if the individual is suffering, Pope John Paul II insisted.
The Holy Father made his remarks during his weekly public audience on February 11, as the Church observed both the World Day for the Sick and the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. He spoke to about 4,000 people in the Paul VI auditorium.

(The Pope's regular Wednesday audience was one of only a few scheduled events at the Vatican. February 11 is also a holiday for the Vatican, commemorating the Lateran accords that established the sovereignty of the Vatican city-state.)

"Every human being, even those marked by sickness and suffering, is a great gift to the Church and to humanity," the Pope said. He said that everyone who is in pain because of illness should find other people ready to provide them with care and concern. Human suffering, he said, "is always a call for the display of merciful love."

The World Day for the Sick should be a reminder of "the important place in the Christian community for people who suffer," the Pope continued. He reminded his audience that while suffering can appear pointless from a human perspective, in the light of the Gospel we should seek its "profound salvific significance."

Pope John Paul, who delivered most of his speech in Italian, conveyed a special message in French to the participants in the official observance of the World Day for the Sick, which was taking place at the Marian shrine in Lourdes, France. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, presided at a Mass for the occasion, celebrated in the basilica at Lourdes.

At the conclusion of his public audience, the Pope made reference to the 75th anniversary of the Lateran accords, describing them as "a historic opening" and a positive benchmark in relations between the Catholic Church and the Italian state.

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