Bethlehem Hospital Grows
Children Cared for in the Land of Jesus' Birth
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BETHLEHEM, DEC. 24, 2010 (Zenit.org).- An expanded Caritas Baby Hospital was inaugurated in Bethlehem, with new facilities for training mothers how to care for their children.
In the city of Jesus' birth, this hospital maintained by international donations opened a "School for Mothers," where the mothers of hospitalized children will reside and be given formation to be able to look after their children better. An outpatients clinic is now also available.
The hospital dates back to Christmas of 1952, when Swiss priest Father Ernst Schnydrig, on pilgrimage in Bethlehem, saw a father burying his son who had died because of a lack of medical care.
The priest hastened to found a medical center to assist all children born in Jesus' land, regardless of their race or religion.
At first, the center had only two rooms.
Later, the Caritas Baby Hospital opened in 1978, but the founder was not present at the inauguration as he had died just a few days earlier.
Benedict XVI visited the hospital during his apostolic pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May of 2009.
The staff totals 215 persons, including doctors, nurses (who are trained in the center itself) and administrative personnel. It has 82 beds. In 2009 it registered a total of 32,300 children assisted.
The center is served by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth of Padua, who give moral and spiritual support both to the staff and to patients and their families.
The inauguration ceremony of the new buildings was on Dec. 18. The new installations were blessed by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Patriarch Twal reflected in his homily that the work of the Caritas Baby Hospital is faithful to the teaching of Jesus, carrying out its charitable work in a complex and difficult context.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and of the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, concelebrated the Mass.