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Pope Francis greeted the crowd as he led the Angelus from a balcony of Gemelli hospital in Rome July 11. The pope is at the hospital recovering from scheduled colon surgery.
Pope Francis greeted the crowd as he led the Angelus from a balcony of Gemelli hospital in Rome July 11. The pope is at the hospital recovering from scheduled colon surgery.
Photo Credit: Vatican Media via Reuters

POPE’S MESSAGE | ‘Anoint’ the sick with closeness and tenderness

At Angelus address July 11 from the hospital, Pope Francis stressed the importance of access to health care for all

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

I am glad to be able to keep the Sunday Angelus appointment, even here from the Gemelli Hospital. I thank you all: I have felt your closeness and the support of your prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

The Gospel passage we read today in the liturgy recounts that Jesus’ disciples, sent by Him, “anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them” (Mark 6:13). This “oil” also makes us think of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, which gives comfort to spirit and body. But this “oil” is also listening, the closeness, the care, the tenderness of those who take care of the sick person: it is like a caress that makes you feel better, soothes your pain and cheers you up. All of us, everyone, sooner or later, we all need this “anointing” of closeness and tenderness, and we can all give it to someone else, with a visit, a phone call, a hand outstretched to someone who needs help.

Let us remember that, in the protocol of the final judgment — Matthew 25 — one of the things they will ask us will be about closeness to the sick.

In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced once again how important good health care is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries. Free health care, that assures good service, accessible to everyone. This precious benefit must not be lost. It needs to be kept! And for this everyone needs to be committed, because it helps everyone and requires everyone’s contribution. In the Church it also happens at times that some healthcare institution, due to poor management, does not do well economically, and the first thought that comes to mind is to sell it. But the vocation, in the Church, is not to have money; it is to offer service, and service is always freely given. Do not forget this: to 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 of other hospitals. They work so hard! And let us pray for all the sick. Here there are some friends, sick children…. Why do children suffer? Why children suffer is a question that touches the heart. Accompany them with prayer and pray for all those who are sick, especially for those in the most difficult conditions: may no one be left alone, may everyone receive the anointing of listening, closeness, tenderness and care. Let us ask this through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, Health of the Sick.

Pope Francis, in keeping with his custom, will not hold weekly audiences in July.

— Pope Francis

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