UK Bishop Lauds Work of St Francis Leprosy Guild

World Leprosy Day Will be Observed on January 30, 2022

St Francis Leprosy Guild
Bishop Declan Lang

Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops’ International Affairs department of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has commended the work of the St Francis Leprosy Guild ahead of World Leprosy Day.

The day is celebrated on the last Sunday of January – January 30, 2022 – and is an opportunity to lift up the voices of people affected by leprosy throughout the world. The theme is ‘United for Dignity’ honoring the lived experiences of those who have experienced leprosy as well as advocating for their right to a dignified life free from disease-related stigma.

St Francis Leprosy Guild has cared for people with leprosy for over 125 years. It works with partners globally to reach out to poor and remote communities to detect and treat new cases of leprosy before the disease takes hold.

This year the Guild is encouraging the Catholic community to reflect on the vital work carried out by Catholic nuns and to unite in prayer for God’s blessing for their vocation. Throughout the world, working in remote or impoverished locations, Catholic nuns are caring for people with leprosy, visiting those who are alone or isolated, and restoring dignity.

“We are inspired by the work that St Francis Leprosy Guild and the sisters carry out in Sri Lanka, and in other countries across the world,” said Bishop Declan Lang.

“In the communities that the Guild supports, there must be great loneliness and hardship. I know that the visits and care provided have a transformative impact on people’s lives.

“The Church has a long tradition of supporting our brothers and sisters living with the effects of leprosy. We have a duty to see that they are included and valued.

“I am mindful of Pope Francis’ call to world leaders last World Leprosy Day, to ensure that people are cured of leprosy and can thrive in their communities. I too hope that the leaders of nations will unite in their efforts to treat those with leprosy and promote their social inclusion.

“I share the Holy Father’s encouragement to nuns, health workers, and volunteers committed to this work and hope that Catholics in England and Wales will pray for and support their mission.

“It is through such kindness and generosity that people with leprosy can receive medication, provisions, and assistance in the most difficult circumstances.”

Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, is a curable infectious disease caused by the bacillus M. leprae. For the first time in centuries, an end to leprosy is in sight and the St Francis Leprosy Guild is on the frontline playing its part.