Pope: in the Last Judgment we shall be asked how close we were to the sick
Pope Francis delivers the Angelus from Rome’s Gemelli Hospital. “Why children suffer is a question that touches the heart. Let us accompany them with prayer and pray for all those who are sick, especially those in the most difficult conditions. May no one be left alone, may everyone receive the anointing of listening, closeness, tenderness and care.”
Rome (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke today from the 10th floor of the Gemelli University Hospital in Rome. In his Angelus address, he noted that the sick should never be left alone and stressed the importance of health care.
Francis, who has been in hospital for the past week, appeared at a balcony with some of the children from the paediatric oncological ward, which is next to his ward. The Pope appeared to be in good condition, sounding slightly tired and with a bandage on his right wrist. A few thousands of people filled the large courtyard near the hospital entrance to listen to him.
Before the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope commented on today’s Gospel, noting that closeness to sick people will be one of the things we will be asked to account for in the final judgment. After the prayer he said he was close to the people of Haiti, whom he urged to follow the ways of peace. He also mentioned that today is Sea Sunday, a day dedicated to seafarers, calling on everyone “to heal the sea”, so “no plastic in the sea”.
“I am glad,” Francis said, “to be able to keep the Sunday Angelus appointment, even here at the Gemelli Hospital. I thank you all. I have felt your closeness and the support of your prayers very much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
“Today’s Gospel says that the disciples of Jesus, sent by him, ‘anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them’ (Mk 6:13). This ‘oil’ is certainly the sacrament of the Anointing of the sick, which gives comfort to spirit and body. But this ‘oil’ is also the listening, closeness, concern, tenderness by those who take care of the sick; it is like a touch that makes you feel better, soothes one’s pain and restores.
“Sooner or later, we all need this ‘anointing’, and we can all give it to someone else, with a visit, a phone call, an outstretched hand to those in need. Let us remember that, in the protocol of the Final Judgment, one of the things they will ask us will be closeness to the sick.”
“During my hospital stay, I have experienced once again how important a good health service is, accessible to all, like here in Italy and in other countries. A free health service that ensures good service to all. This precious asset must not be lost. We must keep it! For this reason, we must all get involved, since it helps everyone and calls for everyone’s contribution.
“Sometimes, even in the Church, some health care facility, due to poor management, may not do well economically, and the first thought that comes to mind is to sell it. But the vocation, in the Church. It is not having money, it is providing service, and service is always free. Don’t ever forget: save free institutions.”
“I would like to express my appreciation and my encouragement to the doctors and all the healthcare workers and staff of this and other hospitals. They work so hard! Let us pray for all the sick. Some friends, sick children are here. Why do children suffer? Why children suffer is a question that touches the heart. Let us accompany them with prayer and pray for all those who are sick, especially those in the most difficult conditions. May no one be left alone, may everyone receive the anointing of listening, closeness, tenderness and care.”
After the Angelus Francis spoke of Haiti. “In recent days my prayer has often been directed at Haiti, following the assassination of its President and the wounding of his wife. I join the heartfelt appeal by the country’s bishops to “lay down weapons, choose life, choose to live together fraternally in the interest of all and in the interest of Haiti”. I am close to the beloved Haitian people; I hope that the spiral of violence will cease and that the nation can resume its journey toward a future of peace and harmony.”
Lastly, “Today is Sea Sunday, dedicated in particular to seafarers and those who live and work by and from the sea. I pray for them and urge everyone to take care of the oceans and seas. Take care of the health of the seas: no plastic in the sea!”