Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Anointing of the Sick: Witnesses of Hope and Healing

In the document Sacraments and Social Mission: Living the Gospel, Being Disciples, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops links the Anointing of the Sick with the social mission of the Church, writing, in part:
We care for the sick because we see them as children of God and part of our human family. When one part of the Body of Christ suffers, we all suffer (1 Cor 12:26). The suffering of one impacts everyone. Thus, we are called to solidarity, which is responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone (Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis [On Social Concern], no. 38; Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate [Charity in Truth], no. 38).
. . .
Caring for those who suffer is not a burden, but a gift. Those who care for the sick do holy and important work; they walk with Christ’s suffering people and in doing so, serve Christ himself (Mt 25:31-46). Those who minister to the sick and who work to secure decent health care for all become “the living sign of Jesus Christ and his Church in showing love towards the sick and suffering” (Christifideles Laici, no. 53).
. . .
The sacrament reminds us that each person is made in the image of God and has dignity that remains unchanged, whatever the body suffers. The ministry of those who are sick is a powerful witness to the fact that human dignity is intrinsic and does not increase or decrease based on a person’s physical state or abilities. This is why the Church works to protect the life and dignity of the person at every stage of life—the embryo, the person suffering from AIDS, the family in poverty, and the person nearing death—and why she works to secure access to decent health care for all.

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