The World Day of the Sick, which falls on 11 February, has reached its 30th edition this year, with the theme "Be merciful, as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6,36): Stand by those who suffer on a path of charity". In his Message for the occasion, Pope Francis recalls that "closeness to the sick and their pastoral care is not only the task of some specifically dedicated ministers" but "it is an invitation addressed by Christ to all his disciples". A call addressed to the whole Church, for which service to the sick and suffering is an integral part of its mission (cf. Dolentium Hominum, 1).
In this perspective, the World Day of the Sick, established by St John Paul II on 13 May 1992, was created to make the people of God and civil society aware of the need for assistance and care for the sick; to help the sick to appreciate suffering; to involve dioceses, Christian communities and religious families in the health care ministry; to encourage the commitment of volunteers; to promote the spiritual and moral formation of health care workers; and to recall the importance of religious assistance to those who suffer.
This year the celebrations will be held in solemn form in the Vatican over two days. On the anniversary day, 11 February, at 10 a.m., a Holy Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica, presided over by Cardinal Peter Turkson, former Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in the presence of patients, social and health workers, assistants and volunteers. On 10 February, a webinar, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (CET), will retrace the history of the Day, showing its fruits and highlighting the relevance of its message.
After the welcome address by the interim Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Card. Michael Czerny, the story of the establishment and development over the years of the Day will be entrusted to Fr. Carmine Arice, Superior General of the Society of Cottolengo Priests and President of the Health Commission of the Union of Superiors General (USG). This will be followed by a space dedicated to the experience, challenges and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic with the testimonies of a person cured of the virus, a health worker and a pastoral worker. Then, the Holy Father's Message for the Day will be echoed in the words of a sick person and a doctor, and the speeches that follow will tell of the commitment to achieving the objectives that outline the meaning of the event from the outset. Speakers will include: Joseph Meaney, President of "The National Catholic Bioethics Center, in the United States; Rev. Fr. Johnny Freire, Moderator General of the Center for Volunteers of Suffering and Silent Workers of the Cross, (CVS and SOC); Fr. Giancarlo Lapic, Fatebenefratello Father and Doctor of Moral Theology; H.E. Dominique Prince de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion in Obedience, Grand Hospitaller of the Sovereign Order of Malta; Don Sebastian Kondzior, Doctor of Theology and Chaplain of the University Clinical Hospital of Bialystok, Poland; Dr. Maria Elena Bellini, Psychologist at the Hospice Casa San Giuseppe in Gorlago, Italy.
The conclusions of the meeting will be entrusted to Sister Alessandra Smerilli, interim Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
It will be possible to follow the webinar, Thursday, February 10, starting at 3:00 p.m., on the theme ""WORLD DAY OF THE SICK: MEANING, GOALS, AND CHALLENGES"" by connecting to the link
Live streaming also from the YouTube channel of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.