States Dinner Remarks by Archchbishop Zygmunt Zimowski

Remarks by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowksi
President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers
States Dinner
128th Supreme Convention
Aug. 3, 2010

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski
President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers

I thank you for inviting me to share some thoughts during the States Dinner. Perhaps, when the venerable Father Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus way back in 1882, he could not have imagined an organization of this magnitude in his lifetime. Today this fraternal service society has not only embraced the whole of the United States of America, it has reached out extensively and is now established in 12 other countries around the world, my home country Poland included. I am glad to have been involved in the introduction of the Knights of Columbus in my former diocese of Radom in Poland. This marvellous organization, which the Servant of God John Paul II wished to have introduced in Poland, is growing very fast. Many youth are enthusiastic about the Order, and they willingly become members.

We thank God, because today we can proudly say that the Order has become the largest Catholic fraternal service organization and it is still true to the founding principles of Charity, Unity and Fraternity.

Sometime back while reading literature about the Knights of Columbus, I came across a paragraph with the subtitle “why become a Knight” and here the Knights were described as men “who are committed to making their community a better place, while supporting their Church, enhancing their faith and family.” I think one of the problems of Christianity in our times, is not being few in number, but having many Christians who are inactive. I commend the knights of Columbus for being involved and swinging many other Catholics into active Christianity.

Being involved in the healthcare ministry of the Church, I cannot fail to thank the Knights of Columbus for their indefatigable work to promote the culture of life through their pro-life activities. The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers has always benefitted from the collaboration and assistance of the Order through the fraternal and qualified collaboration of the Supreme Knight and the members. In a special way, I wish to register my sincere appreciation for the assistance and participation in the 25th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of our Dicastery, which were held in Rome last February 11.

I Am My Brother’s Keeper, is the theme chosen for this convention. This theme does not only reflect the spirit of the Order, but also proclaims what ought to be a living principle for every Christian. It is the practical consequence of Jesus’ command “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10: 27). It’s about the Good Samaritan (Lk 10: 25-37), it is about the mutual obligation between all people. We must therefore learn to make room for the other, carrying each other’s burdens (Gal 6: 2) and rejecting egoistic temptations. I thank you for the strong spirit of brotherhood that reigns among you.

Deeply moved by the suffering of the sick and poor people, who often have no access to the much needed care, the Servant of God, John Paul II, on innumerable occasions emphasized the commitment of the Church to these brothers and sisters and exhorted all believers - following the example of the Good Samaritan - to make every effort possible to help them. In the apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, John Paul II declared: “Now is the time for a new ’creativity‘ in charity, not only by ensuring that help is effective but also by ’getting close‘ to those who suffer, so that the hand that helps is seen not as a humiliating handout but as a sharing between brothers and sisters” (n. 50).

In order to give concrete expression to his wish, the Holy Father created the Good Samaritan Foundation and entrusted it to the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers. This foundation seeks to be an expression of the solidarity-based and preferential love of the Church and the Holy Father for abandoned and least protected people.

The Foundation is now five years old, it is still a baby that needs to grow, and indeed it must grow if it is to fulfill its mission. In the past years we have managed to offer assistance for the procurement of medicines for people living with HIV / AIDS in various poor communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America (Africa: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, D.R. Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe; Asia: Myanmar, Nepal; Latin America: Peru, Honduras, Mexico). However, we have also turned down a number of requests due to lack of funding. My appeal to you dear Knights of Columbus is to help us make this Foundation known, and with God’s blessing we shall continue reaching out to the many needy sick and suffering brothers and sisters around the world.

Finally, I would like to take this occasion to invite you all to our 25th International Conference, which will take place in the Vatican, from 18 to 20 November, 2010, on the theme Toward an Equitable and Human Health Care in the Light of the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

Supreme Knight and Mrs Anderson, sisters and brothers in Christ, I thank you once again for the invitation to be with you at this 128th Convention, for it is always a great joy and an emiching experience, meeting active Catholics.

God bless you all,

Vivat Jesu!