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Philippine Church leaders vow to continue mission to care for sick during pandemic

Priests and bishops are urged to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in hospitals and in parishes during the occasion

Church leaders in the Philippines vowed to continue to care for the sick, especially during the pandemic, as Catholics around the world will mark the 30th World Day of the Sick on Friday.

“We encourage every archdiocese, diocese, and prelature to celebrate this worldwide occasion, while observing minimum public health standards set by the authorities, in giving importance to the sick, their families, and frontline health workers,” read a circular from the Episcopal Commission on Health Care.

Priests and bishops are urged to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in hospitals and in parishes during the occasion.

This year’s observance carries the theme “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” from the Gospel of Luke.

“This verse establishes a clear definition of the Pastoral Mercy and reiteration of the story of the good Samaritan, who showed love and care to a stranger, sick and needy,” read the circular of the Catholic bishops’ health commission.

“The 2022 Word Day of the Sick is a timely event to promote care as an act of God’s mercy,” it said, adding that pastoral health care is an “integral service of the Church, especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We are reminded that ministering to the sick is one of the fundamental acts taught by Our Lord, Jesus Christ,” said the Church leaders. “This is because it animates Jesus actions that take us closeness to Him, as we are nearness to the sick and needy,” they added.

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“We entrust to Our Lady, Health of the Sick, all those who are ill in body and mind, soul and spirit, that she may regain their wellbeing soon,” read the circular.

“With the intercession of St. Joseph, Hope of the Sick, may our prayers unite us as one Catholic and Apostolic Church, living wholeheartedly the vocation to serve life and health.”

“May Jesus, the Divine Mercy, help the sick, their love ones, and those who are providing them comfort and care to realize that their sufferings is an act of charity,” it added.

During his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis called for “spiritual and physical closeness” to all those who are ill.

The World Day of the Sick was instituted by Saint John Paul II 30 years ago “to encourage the people of God, Catholic health institutions and civil society to be increasingly attentive to the sick and to those who care for them.”

Pope Francis said he wished “to remember our dear sick people, so that all may be assured of health care and spiritual accompaniment.”

“Let us pray for these brothers and sisters of ours, for their families, for health care and pastoral care workers, and for all those who care for them,” he added.

While remembering the elderly and the sick, the pontiff also recalled the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

“I wish each one to imitate the Blessed Virgin in her full availability to the divine will. May her example and her intercession be an incentive to strengthen your witness to the Gospel,” said Pope Francis.

In his 2022 message marking World Day for the Sick, Pope Francis reinforces the mission of welcoming and accompanying those who are ill.

“The patient is always more important than his illness and this is why any therapeutic approach cannot neglect listening …. How can we not recall, in this regard, the many patients who, during the pandemic, lived in isolation,” he said.

Pope Francis stressed that “even when healing is not possible, care can always be given.”

“It is always possible to console, it is always possible to make people sense a closeness that is more interested in the person than in his or her pathology,” he said.

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