SYDNEY, Australia, FEB. 7, 2001 (Zenit.org).- This weekend's World Day of the Sick will emphasize that places of suffering are privileged centers for the new evangelization.
The event, an initiative of John Paul II, is being overseen by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers. Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, council president, is in Australia attending to last-minute details.
On Saturday, a congress will take place on health and the new evangelization. Topics will include the Church's health systems and the organization of its health pastoral care. Twenty-two bishops from Oceania have confirmed their attendance.
On Sunday, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the participants in the meeting will visit Sydney hospitals. At 2:30 p.m., Cardinal Edward Bede Clancy, archbishop of Sydney and the Holy Father's special representative for the occasion, will preside over a Mass.
The Pope chose as motto for the day: "The New Evangelization and the Dignity of Suffering Man." Archbishop Lozano told Vatican Radio that the Holy Father "refers to places of suffering as privileged centers for the new evangelization, that is, to teach the meaning of pain, suffering and death, and of the Lord's cross and resurrection."
Likewise, the Mexican archbishop said, John Paul II is expressing that, "despite developments in technology and medical science, there are still many poor countries that do not enjoy their benefits, which means that the international community must do something to ensure at least essential treatments in all parts of the world."
The Vatican delegation headed by Archbishop Lozano will return to Rome on Feb. 12, after a stopover in Bangkok. There they will meet members of the Thai bishops' conference and address the problems of health pastoral care in that country, where the influence of AIDS is alarming.