Pope Francis met with thousands of deaf and blind people at the Vatican's Paul VI hall. The meeting was meant to shed light on the value of all people in society and in the Church.
"We personally, and as an association, can attest to the fact that every person, even those with serious illnesses or complex disabilities, can be happy. They can smile and be active participants of the community of Jesus Christ.”
Encouraging a culture of inclusion, the Pope highlighted that their disabilities can also be a source of strength.
"Only those who recognize their own frailty and their own limits, can build fraternal relationships in the Church and in society.”
The theme of the gathering was to be 'Witnesses of the Gospel for a culture of encounter.' The Pope explained how the ill and disabled can promote this encounter.
"There are two opposing cultures. The culture of encounter and the culture of exclusion and prejudice. The ill and disabled, despite their limits can be witnesses of this encounter with Jesus. It paves the way towards life, faith and an encounter with a community.”
More than 60 volunteers provided simultaneous sign language interpretations during the Pope's speech. Some made it to the gathering along with their guide dogs. Towards the end, the Pope set aside a few minutes to personally greet the group.