Benedict XVI Reminds That Leprosy Still Strikes

Vatican Official Laments Cult of the Body While Thousands Suffer Basic Needs

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is reminding the world that leprosy is not something of the past, but still strikes "many people in conditions of great misery."

The Pope said this today after he had prayed the midday Angelus with thousands who had gathered in St. Peter's Square.

He mentioned lepers because today is World Leprosy Day, as recognized by the United Nations. This world day was promoted by a French writer, Raoul Follereau, in the 1950s.

"I assure all the sick of a special prayer, which I extend to those who care for them and who in various ways work to eliminate Hansen's Disease," the Holy Father said, noting the official name of leprosy.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry also released a statement on the world day. Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski called on society to “unite our efforts to better express justice and love toward those suffering from leprosy.”

He also lamented the trend in today's society to, on the one hand, give "attention to health that threatens to transform itself into a pharmacological, medical and surgical consumerism, becoming almost a cult of the body," while on the other hand, witnessing "the difficulties of millions of persons in finding conditions of minimal subsistence and the medicine that is indispensable for their healing."