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Pope calls for commitment to the sick

 The Pope has called for a renewed commitment to the pastoral care of the sick. In his message for the 11th World Day of the Sick Pope John Paul II urged professionals and religious to be ready to bring help and hope to those afflicted by AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and leprosy. In a statement published to mark the Day of the Sick to be held at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, the Holy Father said that urgent questions about suffering and death awaited satisfactory answers. He also expressed concern about the growth of societies which appeared to eliminate the powerless. "On the continents of North and South America, as elsewhere in the world, a model of society appears to be emerging in which the powerful predominate, setting aside and even eliminating the powerless: I am thinking here of unborn children, helpless victims of abortion; the elderly and incurable ill, subjected at times to euthanasia; and the many other people relegated to the margins of society by consumerism and materialism. "Nor can I fail to mention the unnecessary recourse to the death penalty. ... This model of society bears the stamp of the culture of death, and is therefore in opposition to the Gospel message". The Pope went on to say that the Church was open to genuine scientific and technological progress designed to improve the quality of service to the sick whilst also respecting their dignity. "Every therapeutic procedure, all experimentation and every transplant must take into account this fundamental truth. Thus it is never licit to kill one human being in order to save another. And while palliative treatment in the final stage of life can be encouraged, avoiding a 'treatment at all costs' mentality, it will never be permissible to resort to actions or omissions which by their nature or in the intention of the person acting are designed to bring about death."