Benedict XVI Expresses Closeness to Lepers

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 28, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed his closeness to all those suffering from Hanson's disease on the World Day for Leprosy.



After praying the Angelus today from the window of his study, the Holy Father expressed the hope that those suffering from leprosy will be cured, and that they will receive "adequate treatments" and live in "worthy conditions."

The Pope said to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square: "I encourage health care agents and the volunteers who assist them, as well as all those who combine their efforts in different ways to overcome something that is not only a sickness, but a social plague."

Benedict XVI made mention of those, "following in Christ's footsteps, ... have dedicated themselves to this noble cause."

He named in particular French writer Raoul Follereau (1903-1977), who established the world day, and Belgian Blessed Damien de Veuster (1840-1889), known as the apostle of lepers in Molokai, Hawaii.

According to data of the World Health Organization, leprosy still affects 10 million people worldwide.