Pope Francis says "I address a thought full of gratitude to all those who...are close to the sick...To family members and friends...doctors, nurses and nurses, pharmacists and all health professionals...and many volunteers..."



February 11, 2022


I address my greeting to all of you who participate in this Webinar: "World Day of the Sick: Meaning, Objectives and Challenges", organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, on the occasion of the XXX World Day of the Sick. And our thoughts go with gratitude to all those who, in the Church and in society, are lovingly close to those who suffer.

The experience of the disease makes us feel fragile, it makes us feel in need of others. Not only.   

 "Illness imposes a question of meaning, which in faith is addressed to God: a question that seeks a new meaning and a new direction to existence, and which at times may not immediately find an answer".[1]

Starting from his personal experience, St. John Paul II indicated the path of this journey of research. It is not a question of withdrawing into oneself, but, on the contrary, of opening oneself to a greater love: "If a man becomes a sharer in the sufferings of Christ, this happens because Christ has opened his suffering to man, because he himself in his redemptive suffering has become, in a certain sense, a participant in all human sufferings - all, of all human sufferings -. Man, discovering Christ's redemptive suffering through faith, together discovers his own sufferings in it, rediscovers them, through faith, enriched with a new content and a new meaning "(Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris , 11 February 1984, 20).

We must never forget "the singularity of each patient, with his dignity and his frailties".[2] It is the whole person who needs care: the body, the mind, the affections, the freedom and the will, the spiritual life ... The care cannot be dissected; because the human being cannot be dissected. We could - paradoxically - save the body and lose humanity. The saints who have taken care of the sick have always followed the teachings of the Master: to heal the wounds of the body and soul; pray and act for physical and spiritual healing together.

This pandemic time is teaching us to look at disease as a global phenomenon and not just an individual one, and invites us to reflect on other types of "pathologies" that threaten humanity and the world. Individualism and indifference to the other are forms of selfishness that are unfortunately amplified in the society of consumerist well-being and economic liberalism; and the consequent inequalities are also found in the health field, where some enjoy the so-called "excellence" and many others find it difficult to access basic care. To heal this social "virus", the antidote is the culture of fraternity, founded on the awareness that we are all equal as human persons, all equal, children of one Father (cf. All Brothers , 272). On this basis it will be possible to have effective treatments for everyone. But if we are not convinced that we are all the same, it will not go well.

Always keeping in mind the parable of the Good Samaritan ( cf.ibid. , Chapter II), let us remember that we must not be accomplices either of the bandits who rob a man and leave him wounded in the street, or of the two officials of the cult who see him and pass by. (cf Lk10.30-32). The Church, following Jesus, the Good Samaritan of humanity, has always given herself to those who suffer, dedicating, in particular, great personal and economic resources to the sick. I am thinking of dispensaries and health facilities in developing countries; I think of the many missionary sisters and brothers who have spent their lives to care for the poorest sick; sometimes they themselves sick among the sick. And I think of the numerous saints who all over the world have started health works, involving companions and companions and thus giving rise to religious congregations. This vocation and mission for integral human care must also today renew the charisms in the health field, so that there is no lack of closeness to the suffering people.

I address a thought full of gratitude to all those who in life and work are close to the sick every day. To family members and friends, who care for their loved ones with affection and share their joys and hopes, pains and anxieties. To doctors, nurses and nurses, pharmacists and all health professionals; as well as the hospital chaplains, the religious of the Institutes dedicated to the care of the sick and many volunteers, there are many volunteers. To all these people I assure my remembrance in prayer, so that the Lord may give them the ability to listen to the sick, to have patience with them, to take care of them in an integral way, body, spirit and relationships.

And I pray in a particular way for all the sick, in every corner of the world, especially for those who are most alone and do not have access to health services. Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust you to the maternal protection of Mary, Health of the sick. And to you, and to those who take care of you, I cordially send my Blessing.


[1] Message for the XXIX World Day of the Sick (20 December 2020), 2.

[2] Message for the 30th World Day of the Sick (10 December 2021), 3.