Speaking at the conclusion of the John Carroll Society’s Rose Mass luncheon on March 31, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington, reflected on the present need of the Catholic Church to “follow all of the steps that are a part of healing.”

Comparing the medical profession with the Church today, Cardinal Wuerl said just like with a physical illness, “once you know the problem, you can begin the healing.” He reminded the faithful of the protections put in place to prevent clergy sexual abuse and outlined the continued vigilance needed for healing.

“Our first priority is and must be the pastoral care and outreach to survivors and their families,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “We need to accompany them so that they can experience Christ’s love and healing. He is the Divine Physician.”

The cardinal also warned about complacency -- drawing parallels with preventive medicine. “We have to be alert – and the new element today also involves the bishops,” Cardinal Wuerl said.  “This dimension – the failure of some bishops – is a new manifestation of the wound that requires again careful consideration.”

However, the cardinal added, just as doctors today urge their patients to get back on their feet as soon as possible, to get on with their life, so too the Church needs to continue moving forward. “The ordinary work of the Church goes on, the work of the lay women and lay men goes on, and with that comes that healing, that restoration, and with God’s grace, that healing will come about.”

Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, gives the homily at the March 31 Rose Mass at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland. (CS photo/Christopher Newkumet)

Earlier, during his homily at the 28th annual Rose Mass held at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, called on the members of the medical community to do more than heal physical ailments. 

“Yours is a vocation to offer healing beyond your wildest imagination – a healing that cannot be realized by your own human skill or power,” Bishop Caggiano said. “It is a healing whose wellspring comes from Christ himself.”

Referring to the healing of broken hearts, the bishop urged the caregivers to offer their patients the additional gifts of God’s love and joy. “When anyone enters into the mystery of personal suffering, it is our heavenly Father who stands at the door of our hearts to offer us the assurance of His love that never fails and the accompanying gift of his joy that alone can heal our greatest wounds, the most broken of all hearts, even when suffering will end in physical death.”

Noting a lesson from that day’s Gospel reading about Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son, the bishop said that just as the father in the parable was loving and merciful toward his wayward son, so too God the Father calls on people today to be “channels of God’s love so that broken bodies and broken hearts can be healed.”

Christ is needed for authentic healing, Bishop Caggiano said. “It is Christ’s gift of loving mercy, revealed in his passion and cross, that can enlighten our minds, comfort us in our doubts, give consolation in our suffering and forgive the burden of our sins.”

Cardinal Wuerl was the main celebrant at the Rose Mass. The concelebrants included Bishop Caggiano and Washington Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville, Roy Campbell Jr., and Michael Fisher; and Msgr. Peter Vaghi, chaplain of the John Carroll Society and pastor of the Church of the Little Flower. 

Noting Cardinal Wuerl’s remarks to the 220 participants at the Rose Mass luncheon, Msgr. Vaghi said, “The Church and her works of charity continue in good times and bad, where healing is the antidote to ultimate success in our service to those in need.”

The John Carroll Society, an organization of Catholic professionals in the archdiocese, sponsors the Rose Mass annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare Sunday, when vestments worn by the celebrant are rose-colored. The Mass invokes God’s blessings on those in the medical, dental, nursing and allied healthcare professions as well as the archdiocese’s health care institutions. Following the Mass several local healthcare professionals are recognized with the annual Pro Bono Health Care Awards.

Sunnie Kim, a doctor and assistant professor of medicine at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, was honored among others for her volunteer service to Catholic Charities Health Care Network (see related story at cathstan.org). She described her work serving immigrants from Central and South America who have increased rates of stomach and esophageal cancer in additional to navigating life in a new country. “The last thing they should worry about is having access to good healthcare,” Kim said. She noted that she became involved in the Catholic Charities Health Care Network through the partnership with Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. “They have a heart for these patients.”