VATICAN CITY – The Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry invited the sick and suffering of the world to help the church through prayer and by offering up their suffering during the Year for Priests.
The president of the council, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, encouraged the sick and suffering to pray for an increase in priestly vocations and for priests who are sick and afflicted.
“I invite you, sick brothers and sisters, to unceasingly address your prayers and the offering up of your sufferings to the Lord for the holiness of your priests,” Archbishop Zimowski said in a letter released Oct. 14 at the Vatican. He said the prayers would help priests “perform the ministry that is entrusted to them by Christ.”
He also asked the sick to pray for the beatification and canonization of Pope John Paul II. The late pope founded the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry in February 1985. The council will celebrate its 25th anniversary during the Year for Priests.
Archbishop Zimowski explained the role priests take on when serving the sick, saying that “a priest at the bedside of a sick person represents Christ himself, the divine physician, who is not indifferent to the fate of those who suffer.”
He reminded the sick and suffering of special plenary indulgences they can obtain this year by praying for priests.
Citing a Vatican decree, the archbishop said that “indulgences will be granted to the elderly, the sick and those who are confined to their homes who, with a mind detached from sin and the intention of fulfilling the three usual conditions (confession, Communion and prayer), recite prayers for the sanctification of priests and offer the illnesses of their lives to God.”
The special indulgences are also offered “to all the faithful every time they recite five Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glorias in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” to ask “that priests be preserved in purity and holiness of life,” he said.