" 'The proof of authentic faith in Christ', declares Pope Francis, ‘is self-giving and the spreading of love for our neighbors, especially for those who do not merit it, for the suffering and for the marginalized' ". This is how Cardinal Peter Turkson quoted the Pope referring to the gift of the self in the care of those who are sick, during the Study Seminar for the XXVII World Day of the Sick 2019, held in Kolkata, India, yesterday 11 February, on the occasion of the Solemn Celebration of the World Day of the Sick 2019.
"The solemn celebration in India", said Cardinal Turkson, "wishes to underscore the dimension of gratuity, especially towards the poorest and excluded, including sick people, in light of the experience of St. Teresa of Calcutta. In particular, the gratuitousness experienced by the disciple in receiving grace from God, reverberates in their being in turn a sign of this same gratuitousness, which finds wide space in voluntary service, above all in favor of the sick, the lonely, the elderly and those with psychic or physical disabilities." A delegation of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, led by Cardinal Turkson, went to Kolkata to convey the Pope’s message of compassion to the sick, through several meetings and visits from February 7 to 12.
In addition to the Study Seminar, the Vatican delegation, led by the Cardinal Turkson, and accompanied by Card. Patrick D'Rozario, Special Envoy of Pope Francis for the Celebrations, visited also three Health Centres promoted in Calcutta by the local Church - Shanti Dam, Prem Dam and St. Joseph's Home - run by the religious congregations of the Missionary Sisters of Charity and the Little Sisters of the Poor, which provide health care for the poor and abandoned sick, with particular attention to women with mental disorder.
A solemn Mass with the anointing rite was celebrated by Card. Turkson at the St. Joseph' College, on the 10th and another has been presided by Card. D'Rozario on the 11th at the Bandel Basilica.
The celebration was an occasion for the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to keep contact with the Episcopal Commissions for Helathcare of the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences), and to present the New Charter for Health Care Workers.
The World Day of the Sick was instituted by St. John Paul II in 1992, to draw attention to the sick and their caregivers and the redemptive nature of human suffering. Since then, it has been celebrated each year in a particular place with a particular theme. This year it has been celebrated in Kolkata, India, with the theme, “You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:8).