Pope Francis on Saturday held an audience with the “Hospital Sisters of Mercy,” and encouraged them in their mission despite challenges posed by secular culture.
Delivering his address in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the sisters, and said they are “a concrete sign of how to express the Father’s mercy”.
He recalled how Servant of God Teresa Orsini Doria Pamphili Landi, a noble lay woman who was supported by two priests, established the congregation in accord with Jesus’ call to care for the sick.
In the face of the weakness brought about by illness, “distinctions of social status, race, language, and culture cannot exist,” the Pope said. “All of us become weak, and we must entrust ourselves to others.”
Pope Francis stressed the Church’s commitment and responsibility towards those who suffer, and reflected on the particular charism of the sisters, which is to care for those in hospitals.
He urged the sisters to persevere in their work, despite the difficulties they may face.
“At times, in our days, a secularist culture aims to remove even from hospitals every religious reference,” including the sisters themselves, he said.
Despite this, the Holy Father encouraged the sisters to never tire of “being friends, sisters, and mothers to the sick,” and reminded them that “prayer is the life-blood which sustains [their] evangelizing mission.”
Finally, the Holy Father reminded the sisters of how Jesus is always present in the person who lies suffering in the hospital bed.
“The closeness to Jesus, and to the weakest, is your strength.”