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Friday, July 29, 2016

Visiting sick children in Kraków

At 4:30pm this afternoon (local time), the Holy Father, Pope Francis went to visit at the Prokocim University Paediatric Hospital.  Upon his arrival, he was welcomed by the Prime Minister of Poland, Her Excellency, Beata Maria Szydło and by the Director of the children's hospital.

In the lobby of the hospital, there were approximately 50 young patients and their parents gathered.  Introduced by a greeting offered by the Prime Minister, the Pope then addressed those who were gathered.

Greetings of His Holiness, Pope Francis
offered to patients and family members
at the Prokocim Paediatric Hospital

Dear brothers and sisters,

I could not miss out on a meeting with the young patients of this hospital during my visit to Kraków.  I greet you all and express heartfelt thanks to the Prime Minister for the courteous words she has offered to me.  I want to spend time with each one of the sick children, close to your bedsides, embracing you one by one, listening to each of you even just for a moment and together being silent before the questions for which there are no apparent answers ... and to pray.

The gospel shows us on many occasions the Lord Jesus who met with the sick, welcomed them and even willingly went in search of them.  He always had time for them, kept them like a mother watches over her son when he is not feeling well, and feels within new sources of compassion.

How I wish that, as Christians, we were all able to stay close to the sick like Jesus did, in silence, with a hug, with a prayer.  Our society is unfortunately polluted by a throw away mentality, which is contrary to a culture of welcome.  The victims of a throw away culture are especially those who are weakest, most fragile; and this is a cruel reality.  In contrast, it is beautiful to see that in this hospital, the little ones, those who are in need are welcomed and cared for.  Thank you for this sign of love that you offer!  This is the sign of true civility, human and Christian: putting at the centre of your attention, both socially and politically, those who are most disadvantaged.

Sometimes, families find themselves alone as they care for their children.  What can they do?  In this place, where we see concrete love, I would say: we multiply the works of a culture of welcome, works performed out of Christian love, the love of Jesus crucified, love for the flesh of Christ.  To serve with love and tenderness the persons who need help allows us all to grow in humanity; and it opens the way for us to eternal life: as we perform works of mercy, with no fear of death.

I encourage all those who have accepted the gospel invitation to visit the sick as a personal choice for life: doctors, nurses, all those who are health workers, as well as chaplains and volunteers.  May the Lord help you to do your work well, in this and in every other hospital throughout the world.  I should not forget, here, the work of the Sisters, so many Sisters, who spend their lives in hospitals.  May the Lord reward them by giving them interior peace and hearts that are always capable of tenderness.

Thank you all for this meeting!  I carry you with me, in my affection and in my prayer.  And you too, please, don't forget to pray for me.

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