Pope urges expansion of priests' on-call emergency service - Catholic Courier

Pope urges expansion of priests’ on-call emergency service

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN
CITY (CNS) — The Year of Mercy is a perfect time to increase the number of priests
who take turns being on call all night for emergency spiritual care of the sick
and dying, Pope Francis wrote.

The
pope, as Jesuit Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, belonged to a special service,
which is supported by the Federation of Priestly Emergency Services, an
organization of laypeople in Argentina and Ecuador who drive and accompany
priests on their nighttime calls.

In a
letter July 27 to the federation’s president, Manuel Martin Sjoberg, Pope
Francis wrote, “The coming extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is a good occasion
for intensifying the collaboration between pastors and laypeople in the mission
of supporting with affection and tenderly assisting the sick and dying.”

The
pope also quoted from his document announcing the Year of Mercy, which begins
Dec. 8, calling people to reach out and support those who are suffering “so
they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship and our fraternity.”

In the
Gospel Jesus tells people they will be judged by how they cared for the sick,
he said. “In each of these ‘little ones,’ Christ himself is present.”

According
to Luis Badilla, who writes for the respected blog Il Sismografo, the federation
is present in the city of Cordoba as well as in 17 dioceses of Argentina; it
also has a presence in Ecuador.

The
group was founded more than 60 years ago by Armando Cesar Sanchez, a lawyer in
Cordoba, after knocking on the doors of a dozen churches one night seeking,
without success, a priest to come to his dying son.

“Bars,
pharmacies, barbershops and bookstores were all open, but no churches,” Badilla
wrote Aug. 14.

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