Feb 18, 2023
Pope Francis has called for loving and caring for people who suffer from mental illness, and reassured them that Jesus loves them just as they are.
The Holy Father did so in a message sent Saturday to participants in a study day on "Siblings: sisters and brothers in disability and mental illness" which was held at the Sala Troisi in the Roman neighbourhood of Trastevere and organised by the L'Arche Community in Italy, which cares for people with neurodevelopmental disorders.
The Pope expressed his great pleasure to greet the "beautiful initiative," and reflected on the word "siblings."
"I did not know this word," he said, "but I am well aware of the phenomenon it signifies," namely that for better or worse, "no person is alone" and lives within a network of relationships.
Disability, he acknowledged, impacts the entire family.
"The healthy sibling of a brother or sister with disabilities," he said, "finds himself or herself being like Simon from Cyrene who was forced by the guards to carry Jesus' cross for a long stretch of the path toward Calvary."
A sibling, the Pope continued, "is a person whom life has forced to be a Cyrenian," and the stretch of road travelled by this "Cyrenian brother."
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