Pope Saint John Paul II started the World Day of the Sick in 1993. It happens every year on February 11th, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Mary appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes France in 1858 and since then, the place where Mary appeared, has been a pilgrimage sight where many miraculous healings have happened.
Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness,
that we, who keep the Memorial of the Immaculate Mother of God,
may, with the help of her intercession,
rise up from our iniquities.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The Catholic Church teaches the message of Christ that we have a responsibility to one another. Our world is filled with suffering from illness and disease and this leads us to seek to help limit that suffering through our care to one another but also through the gift of science. The Church supports such scientific endeavors, not only in speech but also in deed. See the following video on how the Catholic Church is helping to advance medicine.
So what are stem cells? What is the Church’s teaching?
Catechesis Video Questions
- Can Catholics be successful scientists or doctors and be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church?
- What does the Catholic Church teach about the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells?
- Why is the use of embryos not acceptable according to Catholic teaching?
- Why does the Catholic Church support adult stem cell research and not embryonic stem cells?
- How is the Church helping to further the research and medicine in adult stem cells?
- Were you aware of the Church’s teaching about adult stem cells? How did you come to know this teaching?
- What is the difference between embryonic and adult stem cells?
- What role does the Catholic Church have to play in medical research and treatments?
- Do you think the Church’s teaching on stem cells is understood by most Catholics in your parish? Why or why not?
Catholic Witness Video – Catholics are often portrayed as being “anti-science” and when it comes to stem cell research the Catholic approach, using adult stem cells instead of embryonic stem cells, results in people thinking the Church is not only anti science but also lacking compassion for those who suffer illness and disease. Jerome Lejeune, the father of modern genetics, helped pave the way for adult stem cell research through his research in genetics. His keen scientific mind coupled with his unwavering support for the respect for all life made his career difficult; losing support and funding for his research because he rejected abortion. But, as we can learn from him, to be Catholic does not require us to ignore science, nor does it lead us to be apathetic to the needs and suffering of others, but calls us to join with them in community of life and love.
Witness Video Questions
- Jerome Lejeune was a French doctor who was a pioneer in genetics research. Does this suprise you that a Catholic scientist was one of the first people to work in genetics?
- What does Lejeune teach us about the way we treat and approach people who are sick?
- In what ways do you think Lejeune struggled because of his Catholic faith and his opposition to some medical practices such as abortion?
- Consider reading the book “Life is a Blessing: A Biography of Jerome Lejeune” and discussing it in your group.
- How do Lejeune’s words sting ring true to this day?
- Were you aware of this pioneer in genetics and his research? Why do you tink that is?
- Jerome Lejeune faced persecution and ostracization because of his Catholic beliefs and his unwillingness to accept abortion and other immoral medical practices. Do you know of any medical professionals who are have a similar struggle? How might you be able to support them?
- As we can see, Catholics have been pivotal in developing successful and morally good treatments in their research and practices. What do you think is the biggest challenge for Catholics who are in the medical profession?
- Collect funds to go to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute to go towards supporting adult stem cell research that respects the dignity of all human life.
- Learn more about adult stem cells and research that is happening at the John Paul II Medical Research Institute and put on a Science Fair at your school!
- Offer prayers for doctors and scientists who are working in the medical profession that they may be dedicated to bringing treatments and cures to those in need without giving in to the pressure to use embryonic stem cells.
- Spread the word about Adult Stem Cells and the Church’s role in helping science in this field.
- Invite a speaker to your parish to have a more in depth presentation on adult stem cell research.
- Support adult stem cell research by learning more about the work being done at the John Paul II Medical Research Institute.
- Raise funds for organizations like the John Paul II Medical Research Institute.
“May the Blessed Virgin, “Health of the Sick” and “Mother of the Living”, be our support and our hope and, through the celebration of the Day of the Sick, increase our sensitivity and dedication to those being tested, along with the trusting expectation of the luminous day of our salvation, when every tear will be dried forever (cf. Is 25:8). May it be granted to us to enjoy the first fruits of that day from now on in the superabundant joy — though in the midst of all tribulations (cf. 2 Cor 7:4) — promised by Christ which no one can take from us (Jn 16:22). Amen.”
Pope St. John Paul II, prayer at the end of his message for the First World Day of Prayer for the Sick, From the Vatican, 21 October 1992