Religion: Sacrament for the Sick

In real life as well as in countless novels, plays and films, the arrival of a priest to administer the Roman Catholic sacrament of extreme unction has long had an ominous meaning: the patient was virtually given up for dead. Those whose condition was not in fact so grave could be given a nasty turn by the sight of the priest with his vial of holy oil. Now Pope Paul VI has changed all that. The sacrament, called "the anointing of the sick" since Vatican II, will hereafter be used not only for those who are in imminent danger of death,...

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