Pope blesses ill Catholics during service for World Day of the Sick

Pope Benedict XVI blessed ailing faithful on Saturday, and prayed that no one be left alone at a time of need so that the sick can maintain their "human dignity."

The pontiff made the remarks to during a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica for the World Day of the Sick, where patients, their nurses and caregivers gathered to pray.

"May the Lord make sure no one is alone and abandoned in a time of need, but on the contrary, may live even their illness according to human dignity," Benedict said.

Speaking of the role of doctors, nurses and volunteers, the pope said he hoped "the love of God (would) be always alive in their hearts, so as to enliven their daily work, projects, initiatives, and especially their interaction with the sick."

Benedict also made a special mention of the mentally ill, saying the Catholic church was close to them.

He praised the ecclesiastical community for its initiatives helping the sick worldwide, "especially where legislation is lacking, where public structures are insufficient, and where natural calamities or, unfortunately, wars and armed conflicts produce grave psychic traumas in people."

Last year, an ailing Pope John Paul II did not attend a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica for the World Day of the Sick less than two months before his death. Instead, he watched the service on television and dispatched a cardinal to read his personal message about the meaning of pain.

John Paul, who at the time was recovering from the flu and breathing problems that required a 10-day hospitalization, told the sick that human pain was precious because it has a mysterious link to Christ's trial on the cross and his resurrection, reports AP.

O.Ch.

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