Pope John Paul comments on the meaning of suffering
In his message for World Day of the Sick (Feb 11) released on Monday, Pope John Paul has discussed the Christian understanding of suffering.
On Monday, the Holy Father named Archbishop Javier Lozano Barrag‡n, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, as his special envoy to the celebrations which will be held at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health at Vailankanny, in southern India.
John Paul II explains in his message for World Day of the Sick 2002 that "Vailankanny attracts not only Christian pilgrims but also many followers of other religions, especially Hindus, who see in Our Lady of Good Health the caring and compassionate Mother of suffering humanity."
"The various religions of humanity have always sought to answer the question of the meaning of suffering, and they recognize the need to show compassion and kindness towards all who are suffering," the Pope explains in his message. "Thus religious convictions have given rise to systems of medicine to treat and cure diseases, and the history of various religions tells of organized health care of the sick practiced from very ancient times."
He continues: "Though the Church finds much that is valid and noble in non-Christian interpretations of suffering, her own understanding of this great human mystery is unique."
"In order to discover the fundamental and definitive meaning of suffering we must look to the revelation of divine love, the ultimate source of the meaning of everything that exists," the Pope contends. "The answer to the question of the meaning of suffering has been 'given by God to man in the Cross of Jesus Christ'."
"The Christian response to pain and suffering is never one of passivity," he adds. It is urged "on by Christian charity, which finds its supreme expression in the life and works of Jesus, who 'went about doing good'," the Holy Father writes.
In this work, John Paul II concludes, "the Church insists on the principle that not all that is technologically feasible is morally admissible. The tremendous progress in medical science and skills in recent times places a supreme responsibility on us all with regard to God's gift of life, which always remains a gift in all its stages and conditions."
The next World Day of the Sick will be held in what His Holiness has called "the Lourdes of the East," the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health at Vailankanny, in southern India.
On Monday, the Holy Father named Archbishop Javier Lozano Barrag‡n, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, as his special envoy to the celebrations.
Pope's Message in full on the Vatican Website