Those Who Suffer Need "Good Samaritans," Says Pope

Message to Religious Association of Social-Health Centers

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Those who suffer intensely might lose sight of the meaning of life, so it is vital that they have at their side "someone like the good Samaritan" to support them, says John Paul II.



He made that point in a message to the Religious Association of Social-Health Institutes (ARIS), which is responsible for the Church's endeavors in Italy in the field of health. It has 300 hospitals, recovery and rehabilitation institutions, and assistance and research centers.

In his text, published Wednesday on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the association's foundation, the Pope proposes the example of persons such as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who "witness in a simple and concrete way the charity and compassion of the Lord for the marginalized, those who suffer, the sick, and the dying."

"While they relieve the wounds of their bodies, they help them encounter Christ who, conquering death, revealed the full value of life in all its phases and conditions," the Holy Father added.

"Never cease, dearest brothers and sisters, from proclaiming the Gospel of suffering! Give witness with your service to the redeeming power of Divine Love," John Paul II exhorted.

"We can recognize, especially in the sick and suffering, the suffering face of Christ, who on the cross revealed to us the merciful love of the Father; redeeming love, who has definitively healed humanity wounded by sin," he added.

"Make of the apostolate of mercy, to which you are dedicated, a genuine 'diaconia' of charity that, in time and space, will make visible and almost tangible the tenderness of the heart of God," the Holy Father said.

Inviting the ARIS members "to continue serving the sick with competence and dedication," the Pope manifested his appreciation for the association's work in many countries, "especially in the mission territories."

"You help those young Churches to administer structures of reception for the sick and suffering, and to form health and pastoral workers," he concluded. "It is good that that fruitful collaboration between the ecclesial communities of the North and South of the world be ever more intensified."