Pope: Anointing of the sick offers strength to those seriously ill, elderly

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A screengrab from Pope Francis' video message released July 2, 2024, shows a man receiving a blessing as part of his prayer intention for the month of July, which is dedicated to the pastoral care of the sick. (CNS screengrab/Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is not just for those who are nearing the end of their life, Pope Francis said.

“Let us remember that the anointing of the sick is one of the ‘sacraments of healing,’ of ‘restoration,’ that heals the spirit,” the pope said in a video message released July 2 by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

The network posts a short video of the pope offering his specific prayer intention each month. For the month of July, the pope dedicated his prayer intention to the pastoral care of the sick.

Anointing of the sick

“The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament only for those who are at the point of death,” the pope said, emphasizing “it is important that this is clear.”

Having a priest give the sacrament does not necessarily mean saying “goodbye to life,” he said. “Thinking this way means giving up every hope.”

“When a person is very ill, it’s advisable to give them the anointing of the sick. And when someone is elderly, it’s good that they receive the anointing of the sick,” Pope Francis said, underlining how there is no need to wait until a person experiencing a serious illness is at the point of death to receive the sacrament.

“Let us pray that the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick grant the Lord’s strength to those who receive it and to their loved ones, and that it may become for everyone an ever more visible sign of compassion and hope,” he said.

Carol Glatz

Carol Glatz writes for Catholic News Service.