Bishop O’Toole: A child is always a gift, not a problem

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At a special Mass for the sick and elderly in Lourdes, Bishop Mark O’Toole, the Bishop of Plymouth, encouraged pilgrims to always see a child as ‘a gift’.

In his homily, preached in the tranquil setting of the Cathedral of the Trees, Cite Saint Pierre, Bishop O’Toole talked about how the physically and mentally sick are often pushed to the margins of our society and how we have to fight for their needs so they can be properly included and not ignored.

He also cautioned that proposed NHS pre-natal testing which is being planned for pregnant women could lead society to view children with life-altering conditions as “a problem”:

“Parents who are expecting a child who is diagnosed with Down’s syndrome or with other conditions, will be encouraged by our society and by many professionals to look only at the difficulties of having such a child. They will not be told of the blessings that such a person can bring, of the happiness and joy that so often surrounds them. We are increasingly losing the sense that a child is always a gift, not a problem.”

Bishop O’Toole went on to look at Christ the healer and at the miracles of Lourdes:

“It’s important to remember that the Gospels record that Jesus healed all those who came to him. For some that healing was physical; for many it was spiritual, psychological, personal – deeply human. Jesus knows that a crippled heart or mind is as debilitating as a broken body.

“There are something like 69 physical cures officially recognised by the medical bureau of Lourdes. But I know that there are a countless number of miracles of healing which will never feature on the pages of the medical bureau. Healing of the mind, of the heart: a deeper acceptance of the limits of life, a deeper compassion for oneself and for others.

Bishop O’Toole was in France leading his diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes from 28 May – 3 June 2016.