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Pope Francis embraces a sick child at the Vatican in 2018 (CNS/PaulHaring)

The “first therapy” that must be offered to the sick, and to the world, is a dose of closeness, friendship and love, Pope Francis said in his message for the World Day of the Sick. Source: CNS.

“We came into the world because someone welcomed us; we were made for love; and we are called to communion and fraternity,” he wrote in his message for the annual observance on February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

A connection with other people “is what sustains us, above all at times of illness and vulnerability,” the 87-year-old Pope wrote. “It is also the first therapy that we must all adopt in order to heal the diseases of the society in which we live.”

The theme chosen for the 2024 observance is from the Book of Genesis, “It is not good that man should be alone.” It was subtitled, “Healing the Sick by Healing Relationships.”

In his message, released January 13, Pope Francis said Christians believe that “from the beginning, God, who is love, created us for communion and endowed us with an innate capacity to enter into relationship with others.”

“We were created to be together, not alone,” he wrote. “Precisely because this project of communion is so deeply rooted in the human heart, we see the experience of abandonment and solitude as something frightening, painful and even inhuman.”

Pope Francis recalled the horrible pain of loneliness endured by those who were sick or in nursing homes during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and had no contact with their loved ones.

Addressing those who are ill, Pope Francis said: “Do not be ashamed of your longing for closeness and tenderness! Do not conceal it, and never think that you are a burden on others.”

And he called on all Catholics, “with the love for one another that Christ the Lord bestows on us in prayer, especially in the Eucharist,” to “tend to the wounds of solitude and isolation” found particularly among the sick.


The sick, and the world, need ‘therapy’ of love, Pope says in message (By Cindy Wooden, CNS)