Sick Kids Need Family of God, Says Pope

Assures That Christ Is Close to the Suffering

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Church is the family of God in the world, and must care for its members, especially sick and suffering children, Benedict XVI is affirming.

The Pope stated this in his message for the 17th World Day of the Sick, which will be celebrated on Feb. 11 on a diocesan level. The message, published Saturday by the Vatican, invites the faithful to organize on this day for prayer and reflection on the reality of suffering.

The Holy Father stated, "This year we direct our attention particularly to children, the most weak and defenseless creatures and, among these, sick and suffering children."

He mentioned the children with "disabling diseases" as well as those "injured in body and soul as a consequence of conflicts and war, and other victims of the senseless hatred of adults." He remembered the "street children," deprived of the warmth of a family, and those whose innocence is violated, "resulting in a psychological wound that will mark them for the rest of their lives."

The Pontiff added: "From all of these children arises a silent cry of pain that calls out to the conscience of men and believers.

"The Christian community, which cannot remain indifferent to such tragic situations, sees the pressing duty to intervene."

He pointed out that the families of sick children generally share in this suffering, and also have a need for care from the Christian community.

Benedict XVI continued: "Thus, acceptance and sharing of suffering results in a useful support to the families of sick children, creating among them a climate of serenity and hope, and making them feel surrounded by a vast family of brothers and sisters in Christ."

He underlined the example of Jesus and his compassion for the sick, saying that "all this presupposes a generous and selfless love, a reflection and sign of the merciful love of God who never abandons his children in tests, but always provides wonderful resources to the heart and the intelligence to be able to adequately address the difficulties of life."

The Pope affirmed: "The daily dedication and tireless commitment to the service of sick children is an eloquent testimony of love for human life, particularly for the life of someone who is weak and in all and for all dependent on others.

"It is necessary to affirm with vigor the absolute and supreme dignity of every human life.

"The teaching that the Church proclaims incessantly does not change over time: Life is beautiful and should also be lived in fullness when it is weak and is wrapped in the mystery of suffering."