Pope Francis demonstrated his commitment to a life of tender compassion this week by openly embracing, kissing, and blessing an unidentified man covered with tumors caused by neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic disease of the nervous system, in St. Peter's Square.
"The gesture is the latest in a series of actions by the Holy Father that have drawn attention for their warmth and affection towards the marginalized in society," the Catholic News Agency
"Previously, the Pope made headlines by visiting imprisoned youth, responding to letters with personal phone calls, and inviting the local homeless to dine at St. Peter’s Square."
The pope’s action, which was carried out near the conclusion of his typical greeting of pilgrims in the square, has drawn attention to the disease — which is genetic and not contagious — whose sufferers often face discrimination because of their appearance.
The gesture is the latest in a series of actions by the Holy Father that have drawn attention for their warmth and affection towards the marginalized in society.
Neurofibromatosis, or NF, causes tumors to grow on nerves and nerve endings. The tumors are usually benign, but in some cases they may become cancerous, according to the National Institutes of Health.
It typically appears in childhood or during the teen years, and cause bone deformities, skin discoloration, bumps on or beneath the skin, hearing problems, poor balance, learning disabilities, and severe pain.
There is no cure for neurofibromatosis, though treatments, including pain medications and surgery, can help address some of the symptoms of the disease, according to the LiveScience