A Call to Accept Suffering in Faith

Conferees Give a Perspective to Prayers for Healing

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ROME, NOV. 13, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The faithful must pray for the gift of healing but at the same time accept suffering in faith, conferees said at a four-day meeting here.



"The healing charism is a means of the new evangelization," said Allan Panozza, president of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services.

ICCRS helped organize the Nov. 10-13 meeting along with the sponsor, the Pontifical Council for the Laity. ICCRS promotes Charismatic Renewal in the Church and coordinates its activities worldwide.

The topic of the congress was "Healing Prayer and Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church." The topic was analyzed in light of last year´s "Instruction on Prayers to Obtain God´s Healing," published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford, president of the Council for the Laity, told the conference that sickness of body and spirit "is not just an evil but an occasion to glorify God."

If healing is a sort of "anticipation" of the resurrection, said Father Albert Vanhoye, secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, "Christ´s healing and saving is a sign of a deeper cure: Man´s real sickness is sin."

It is faith that makes Jesus´ miracles possible, Father Vanhoye added.

Cardinal Stafford noted that healing is a gift from God and that faith cannot be conceived "according to magic categories."

Archbishop Tarsicio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, warned that the field of healing attracts sects and leads to unorthodox practices that often include "fraudulent esoteric resources" such as "anointing with oil of a different origin."

"Society has made people more fragile, feeling the need to be comforted and healed," Archbishop Bertone said. "The image of Christ the miracle-worker is rooted in early Christian tradition and continues today in African Christology."

He urged the priests at the congress to give special importance to visiting the sick.

The Italian prelate explained that in face of illness, every believer is called to pray, because "the value of suffering offered in Christ is a fact that is impossible to eliminate from faith and it must be evangelized, in a society that proposes euthanasia."

Archbishop Bertone described suffering as a "means of spiritual growth and grace." It is a duty to pray for the sick everywhere, but preferably in a sacred place, with the guidance of a minister, he added.

Father Fidel Gonzalez, rector of the Urban University, said the current situation calls for catechesis. Illness represents "a profound call to search for the meaning of life," he said.

Healings are also "interior," said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household.

"Spiritual healing is not only linked to conversion from sin, but also to traumas, and emotional deficiency, including the lack of self-esteem," Father Cantalamessa emphasized.

The friar said it is also necessary to pray to "be delivered from the fear in which we are trapped: Terrorism is a real threat, which has nothing ethereal about it, but fear accentuated in the extreme is equivalent to accepting defeat. Let us have confidence in the Word, in the incomparable therapeutic value of the love of God, the comfort of the Holy Spirit."