Science and faith meeting in Seoul for the 15th World Day of the Sick
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The Korean Catholic Church is organising a three-day series of scientific and cultural events to underscore the importance of pastoral and spiritual care of those affected by incurable diseases. Catholic leaders renew appeal for medical research compatible with Catholic ethics.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The main focus of the 15th World Day of the Sick includes pastoral and spiritual care for those affected by incurable diseases but also a moment of prayer for the entire Korean population and a renewed appeal for medical research compatible with Catholic ethics. The event will be held from February 9 to 11 at Seoul’s Myeongdong Cathedral and the Jangchung Gymnasium; the theme Benedict XVI picked last December 13 was “Spiritual and Pastoral Care for the Sick with Incurable Diseases”.

The decision to celebrate the World Day was made by John Paul II, who wanted the sick to be remembered on the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes. Indeed the first edition of the event took place in Lourdes.

For this year’s edition, the Pope appointed Card Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, as his special envoy.

In preparing for the forthcoming World Day of the Sick, Cardinal Lozano Barragán said: “I hope that the World Day of the Sick this year will serve not only as an event for the sick and health pastoral workers but also for all Korean people as well as all the Catholic faithful in Korea.”

In addition to liturgical services in which all of the country’s bishops will take place, there will also be a “Scientific Day,” a trip to a Catholic hospital that provides free treatment and various theatrical and musical venues with disabled artists performing.

Choosing Seoul for the World Day was particularly important because the Korean Church has been involved for quite some time in promoting medical research compatible with Catholic ethics.

One example is the creation of the Institute of Cell Therapy, which is engaged in research into the adult stem cell and is against the use embryonic cells, this in the city that saw the rise and fall of phoney “cloning pioneer” Hwang Woo-suk.

During the visit to the Institute’s laboratories, the Archbishop of Seoul, Card Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, will make another appeal in favour of medical science that is compatible with Catholic ethics and morality, only guarantee for innovations that are truly useful to mankind. A  website devoted to the event is already up and running at and a prayer (see below) has been released for the occasion that the faithful can recite during the novena. A Braille edition is also available for the blind.

The World Day’s official poster (see photo) reproduces a painting by a famous deaf and mute Korean painter who converted to Catholicism late in life a few years before his death.


15th World Day of the Sick Prayer


Oh, God of Life,

on this World Day of the Sick,

We thank you for granting us the blessing

of sharing with the sick their suffering.


Send your Spirit onto all the sick, especially

to those who suffer from incurable diseases,

to console them and bolster their faith.


Oh, God, Lord of Life,

grant those who are suffering

a faith that sure in the resurrection of Christ

and grant them the possibility of participating

in His glory.


Grant the strength of Your Holy Spirit

to all health and pastoral care workers

who help the sick

and make them, always and everywhere,

have a profound respect for the dignity of

human life.


Oh, God of Love,

on this World Day of the Sick,

and Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes,

we pray that you may fill our hearts

with Mary’s affectionate love

so that we may approach the sick and their families

showing them with a joyful heart the love of the Lord.

we ask this through Christ our Lord.