Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)
No disease makes a person impure; only sin does that, Pope Francis said.
While being sick can impact a person's whole being, 'it in no way impairs or impedes one's relationship with God. In fact, a sick person can be even more united to God,' the pope said on 11 February, commenting on the day's Gospel reading about Jesus healing a leper.
'Sin is what makes us impure,' the pope said. 'Selfishness, pride,' corruption - 'these are the diseases of the heart which must be purified by turning to Jesus like the leper did, 'If you wish, you can make me clean.''
Speaking to an estimated 30,000 people gathered in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis asked them to take a moment in silence and think about 'your own impurities, your own sins,' and then, in silence, tell Jesus, 'If you wish, you can make me clean.'
Every time someone goes to confession with a repentant heart, he said, Jesus responds as he did to the leper, 'Yes. Be made clean.'
The feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, 11 February, also is the day the Catholic Church marks the World Day of the Sick. Pope Francis said the Gospel shows how Jesus 'heals sicknesses of every kind' and that he is a 'true physician of bodies and souls, who God the father has sent into the world to heal humanity.'
After reciting the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis was joined at the window of his study by two young adults. One handed him a tablet as he announced that the registration period for World Youth Day in Panama had opened.
He clicked on the site - www.panama2019.pa/en/registration-of-pilgrims
- and said, 'There, I'm registered as a pilgrim for World Youth Day,' which will be held 22-27 January, 2019.
Pope Francis also used his post-Angelus remarks as an occasion to wish a happy New Year to people in China and throughout the Far East; the lunar New Year begins on 16 February.