Pope Benedict in his Mass for the sick at Lourdes.
Benedict administered the sacrament of the sick to pilgrims in wheelchairs and on gurneys, many bundled in quilts against the chill.
In his homily, the pope said the ill should pray to find "the grace to accept, without fear or bitterness, to leave this world at the hour chosen by God."
The Vatican vehemently maintains that life must continue to its natural end.
"At his Mass with thousands of sick people Sept. 15... [the Pope] thanked Catholics at Lourdes and all over the world who volunteer their time and effort to help the infirm.
"That highlighted a key theme of Benedict's pontificate, one he has underlined in encyclicals but which is sometimes overlooked: that personal charity -- love in action -- is the ultimate expression of faith in Jesus Christ."