The Pope Video: For the pastoral care of the sick

July 2, 2024 in Featured News

In The Pope Video for July, Pope Francis lifts up his prayer that the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick might become more and more a “visible sign of compassion and hope.” 

In his video message – produced in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles – the Pope insists that it “is not a sacrament only for those who are at the point of death,” but states that it “is one of the ‘sacraments of healing,’ of ‘restoration,’ that heals the spirit.”

This sacrament guarantees that Jesus can be close to the pain of those who are either ill or elderly, the relief of their sufferings, and the forgiveness of their sins. It is not, however, synonymous with receiving a miracle of bodily healing, or that death is imminent. 

The Anointing of the Sick is often the forgotten or least recognized sacrament, the Pope continues. Nevertheless, “it is Jesus himself who comes to relieve those who are sick, to give them strength, to give them hope, to help them; and also to forgive their sins. And this is very beautiful!” Hence, it’s pastoral significance.

Father Frédéric Fornos S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, stresses that although many have rediscovered the depth of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, it is still often perceived as a way to prepare the sick for death. “This is what Pope Francis says when he recalls that when someone is seriously ill, we want to postpone the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick as long as we can because the idea persists that the undertakers arrive after the priest (General Audience, 26 February 2014). This is why Pope Francis hopes we can rediscover the complete depth and the true meaning of this Sacrament, not only as a preparation for death, but also as a sacrament that offers consolation to the sick in times of serious illness, and strength to their loved ones and those caring for them.”

The sick person is not alone. With the priest and the other people present, the entire Christian community supports the person with their prayers, nourishing his or her faith and hope, assuring them, and their family as well, that they are not alone in their suffering. All of us know people who are sick. Let us pray for them. And if we think they are facing a serious illness, or they are elderly and declining, let us not hesitate to propose that they experience this Sacrament of consolation and hope,” Father Fornos concludes.