Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 16, 2009
Pope calls attention to suffering of children
BY CAROL GLATZ
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY — Countless sick and suffering children are in urgent need of help and protection, Pope Benedict said.
In his message for the Feb. 11 celebration of World Day of the Sick, the pope urged Catholics to not be indifferent to the suffering of these “weakest and most defenceless creatures.”
That concern should lead Catholics to recognize a “pressing duty to intervene,” he said.
World Day of the Sick is marked each year on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The pope dedicated this year’s message to children.
He underlined the plight of children “wounded in body and soul as a consequence of conflict and war and other innocent victims of the senseless hatred of adults.”
He noted the difficulties children living on the street face because they are deprived of “the warmth of a family” and are left to fend for themselves.
He called attention to those who are struck by crippling diseases or are battling illnesses that are still incurable despite great medical advancements.
The pope also spoke of the psychological scars children live with the rest of their lives when their innocence has been violated “by despicable people.”
“We cannot forget the countless numbers of young people who die because of thirst, hunger, and lack of medical care,” he said.
Children of refugees and others whose families are on the move searching for a better way of life are especially vulnerable, the pope said.
“A silent cry of pain emerges from all these children that calls out to the conscience of men and women and people of faith,” he said.
“The Christian community, which cannot remain indifferent before such dramatic situations, recognizes the pressing duty to intervene.”
Pope Benedict praised international and national organizations for generously helping the world’s sick children especially in poorer countries.
Yet, he made a “heartfelt appeal” to world leaders to do more and to strengthen laws and programs that support sick children and their families.
Those who dedicate their lives to helping sick children “give eloquent witness to the love for human life,” he said.
The Church teaches that human life “is beautiful and should be lived in full even when it is weak and wrapped in the mystery of suffering.”