November 9, 2010

VATICAN CITY  (VIS) - This afternoon the Pope visited the “Obra Benefico-Social Nen Deu”, a charitable institution in Barcelona founded in 1892 by Blessed Carmen of the Child Jesus Gonzalez Ramos, foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts.

The institution originally provided assistance to the children of poor families, most of them afflicted with Downs syndrome, but given the gradual reduction in such cases it now houses some 250 patients ranging in age from three to twenty-one and suffering from autism, severe epilepsy or personality disorders. They are cared for by the nuns with the support of a team of eighty professionals and volunteers.

On his arrival the Holy Father was received by Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona. Having then addressed greetings in Catalan to the mother superior of the community, the patrons of the Obra, the patients and their families, Benedict XVI began his remarks:

“I would also like to express my appreciation to the authorities, and I invite them to increase their efforts to provide adequate social services and assistance to the most needy. I also thank those who, with their generous support, build up and sustain private welfare institutions, such as this special education school of Nen Deu. At a time when many households are faced with serious economic difficulties, the followers of Christ must multiply concrete gestures of effective and constant solidarity, showing in this way that charity is the hallmark of our Christian life.

“The dedication of the basilica of the Sagrada Familia”, he added, “has highlighted that churches are the sign of the true sanctuary of God among men. Here, I would like to emphasise how, through the efforts of this and similar church institutions … it is clear that, for the Christian, every man and woman is a true sanctuary of God, and should be treated with the highest respect and affection, above all when they are in need. In this way, the Church desires to put into practice the words of the Lord in the Gospel, ‘I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’”.

The Holy Father continued: “In recent decades, remarkable advances in medicine have greatly contributed to the care of those in greatest need, advances which have been accompanied by a growing conviction of the importance of dedicated and humane treatment for the positive outcome of the healing process. Therefore, it is indispensable that new technological developments in the field of medicine never be to the detriment of respect for human life and dignity, so that those who suffer physical illnesses or handicaps can always receive that love and attention required to make them feel valued as persons in their concrete needs”.

“Dear children and young people, giving thanks to God for your lives, so precious in His eyes, I assure you that you have a special place in the Pope’s heart. … I always remember in my prayers those who are dedicated to helping the suffering, and those who work tirelessly so that the handicapped can take their rightful place in society and not be marginalised because of their limitations. In this respect, I wish to recognise, in a special way, the faithful witness of priests and those who visit the sick at home, in hospitals or in other specialised institutions. They incarnate that important ministry of consolation in the face of human frailty, which the Church seeks to carry out in imitation of the Good Samaritan”.

Following his address the Pope received a number of gifts prepared for him by the children and young people of Nen Deu, and blessed the cornerstone of the institution’s new residence, which will bear his name. He then travelled by car to the airport where, at 6.30 p.m., he held a private meeting with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain”.


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