Pope Calls Lack of Health Care a "Grave Injustice"

Pleads for More Attention to the Sick

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2001 (Zenit.org).- On World Day of the Sick, John Paul II made a special appeal to political and economic leaders to put an end to the injustice suffered by those lacking health care.



"Looking at the present world situation, I cannot forget all the brothers and sisters -- too many -- who even today lack indispensable health treatments," the Pope said at midday, as he greeted 10,000 pilgrims gathered below his window in St. Peter´s Square.

"This is a serious injustice that urgently calls for an effort on the part of all, especially of those who have greater responsibilities at the political and economic level," the Pontiff said, before praying the Angelus.

On behalf of the Church, John Paul II thanked all those "individuals, religious institutions, nongovernmental organizations ... [that] are dedicated with admirable concern to the service of the sick and those who are suffering."

"I am thinking in particular of that front of men and women religious who, together with numerous lay people, work in hostels and small health centers in the poorest countries, in the midst of difficulties and conflicts, even risking their own life to save that of their brothers," the Pope said.

The Bishop of Rome encouraged them to continue this "meritorious work, which in many nations is producing a wide and providential sensitization of consciences."

Likewise, he recalled that this year´s World Day of the Sick was centered in Sydney, Australia, with the motto "The New Evangelization and the Dignity of Suffering Man."

"The hospitals and centers for the sick and elderly, and every house where human suffering is present are privileged ambits in which the Gospel message, bearer of hope, must be made to resonate," the Holy Father said. "Therefore, it is important that at the beginning of the millennium, new impetus be given to the secular commitment of the Church in the realm of health, authentic laboratory of the civilization of love."

In the afternoon, John Paul II met and greeted the sick who attended the Mass celebrated in St. Peter´s Basilica by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope´s vicar for the Diocese of Rome.