Message from FIAMC for 25th World Day of the Sick


The World Day of the Sick was instituted by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1992 to draw attention to mystery of human suffering and to recognize the important role of carers of the sick and elderly. Timed to be celebrated on February 11 – the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, whose shrine has become a temple of human suffering- the event is commemorated annually in different continents.

On the 25th anniversary, the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated in Lourdes. In his message, “Amazement at what God has accomplished: ’The Almighty has done great things for me…”(Luke 1:49)’ the Holy Father Pope Francis says that ”…all the infirm and those who look after them should look to Mary “Health of the inform, the sure sign of God’s love for every human being and a model of surrender to His will”..

In unity with the Holy Father Pope Francis, FIAMC invites every healthcare giver and its member associations in particular to reflect on the theme of the 25th World Day of the Sick. Where possible we urge you to organize a day of reflection or set aside time on the 11th Feb to consider the plight of the incurably ill, particularly in places where poverty and hardship cause immense misery and grief.

While this day is an occasion to recognize the efforts of healthcare workers, it is also an appropriate time for us to contemplate on our roles as physicians.

In His message in 2002, St John Paul II urged us “to express our solidarity with those who suffer, a solidarity arising from our awareness of the mysterious nature of suffering and its place in God’s loving plan for every individual”. Examining the role of Christian healthcare facilities and workers will serve to reaffirm the true Christian values which should inspire them. “To walk in the footsteps of Jesus, the Divine Healer … implies an unambiguous stance in favour of the culture of life and a total commitment to the defence of life from conception to natural death.” Pope Francis adds that the celebration of the World Day of the Sick will provide new incentive to “promote the culture of respect of life, and inspire renewed efforts to defend the integrity and dignity of persons”.

While the quest to alleviate suffering is a legitimate and noble pursuit, suffering nevertheless remains a fundamental fact of human life and touches on the very essence of man himself (Salvifici Doloris). From ancient times, the various religions of humanity have sought to understand the meaning of suffering stressing on the need to exhibit kindness and compassion to the afflicted. Even though the Church finds much that is valid and noble in non-Christian interpretations of suffering, her own understanding of this great human mystery is unique. In order to discover the fundamental and definitive meaning of suffering “we must look to the revelation of divine love, the ultimate source of the meaning of everything that exists” (Salvifici Doloris, 13). The answer to the question of the meaning of suffering can be found in the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. As God and man, Christ has taken on Himself the sufferings of humanity, and in Him human suffering itself takes on a redemptive meaning.

While we hope that the millions who are afflicted by incurable diseases may find redemptive value and solace in their sufferings, the Christian response to pain and suffering should never be one of passivity. Following the example of Christ the Divine Physician, FIAMC urges all healthcare givers to continue to bring hope and comfort to the sick and suffering. Ultimately it involves the total and unselfish gift of self to others especially those who are suffering. The Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan represents the noblest sentiments and response of someone confronted with a fellow human being in suffering and need. A contemporary example of the Good Samaritan which we will do well to emulate would be Mother Teresa who found joy ministering to the sick because she can see Jesus even in the most abject of humanity.

Solidly rooted in charity, the Catholic healthcare worker continues Jesus’ own mission in caring for the weak and the sick. In our approach to the sick and the suffering, we as Catholic Healthcare givers should be guided by a precise and all-round view of the human person “created in the image of God and endowed with a God-given dignity and inalienable human rights” (Ecclesia in Asia, 33). As an organization which affirms the culture of life and the dignity of every human being, FIAMC is dedicated to promoting the obligation to alleviate the suffering of those who are in need. As a positive manifestation of its commitment to serve the suffering, FIAMC and its member associations have been particularly active in mission outreach all over the world even in communities where Christians are persecuted.

In conclusion, we echo the prayer of our Holy Father Pope Francis for healthcare workers throughout the world, and particularly those dedicated to the service of the infirm, to continue, with the help of Mary, Salus Infirmorum, to bear effective witness to the loving concern of God our Father. May the Blessed Virgin, our Mother, comfort those who are ill and sustain all who have devoted their lives, as Good Samaritans, to healing the physical and spiritual wounds of those who suffer.

Dr John Lee, President FIAMC