In a year that saw assisted suicide advocates be applauded by the press, Pope Francis made some poignant commentary about the sanctity of life in his message for the World Day of the Sick, reminding the world that life is always worth living, regardless of the perceived "quality" of it.
From Vatican Insider:
The Pope claims that it is a hypocritical lie that ‘lurks behind certain phrases which so insist on the importance of “quality of life” that they make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living!’. About this ‘great lie’, he says that ‘even when illness, loneliness and inability make it hard for us to reach out to others, the experience of suffering can become a privileged means of transmitting grace’. So then, ‘people immersed in the mystery of suffering and pain, when they accept these in faith, can themselves become living witnesses of a faith capable of embracing suffering, even without being able to understand its full meaning.’
The Pope denounces that ‘Occasionally our world forgets the special value of time spent at the bedside of the sick, since we are in such a rush; caught up as we are in a frenzy of doing, of producing, we forget about giving ourselves freely, taking care of others, being responsible for others. Behind this attitude there is often a lukewarm faith’. Therefore, the Pope urges us: ‘I would like once again to stress “the absolute priority of ‘going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters’ as one of the two great commandments which ground every moral norm’. Moreover, the Pope highlights ‘how many Christians show, not by their words but by lives rooted in a genuine faith’. Living close to the sick, they are on a ‘great path of sanctification’ because if it is ‘easy to help someone for a few days’, it is instead ‘difficult to look after a person for months or even years, in some cases when he or she is no longer capable of expressing gratitude’
The feast day will be celebrated on February 11. The World Day of the Sick was instituted in 1992 by Pope St. John Paul II. The remarks were released earlier today by the Vatican.
While it's not exactly a shock that the leader of the Catholic Church is taking a stand against the culture of death, I still really appreciate these words from the pontiff. Suffering is a tricky subject to speak about, especially in today's world of instant gratification. Hopefully Pope Francis' words will provide comfort to both the sick and their caregivers.