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Pope Francis warns against neglecting spiritual care for disabled persons


The International Day of Disabled Persons will take place on December 3, and in advance the Vatican has published Pope Francis' message.

It is entitled "You are my friends" and reminds people with disabilities that they too are called towards close relationship with God.

The Pope encourages them to not hesitate in contributing to the Church. One way, for example, is through the Synod of Bishops, the first stage of which is currently underway at the diocesan level. 

P. ALEXANDRE AWI MELLO
Secretary, Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life
The first test for a truly inclusive pastoral ministry will be to understand how to listen to people with disabilities within the synodal journey and—at the same time—how to help them become aware of the call that they, like all Christians, have received in this particular time in the life of the Church. 

VITTORIO SCELZO
Dicastery Laity, Family and Life
On the other hand, throughout the text, an updated definition of what disability is is put forth. The Pope makes it clear by saying that disability is not a disease, but the result of when the restrictions put in place by society meet the limits of each person.
It is important that the Pope is on firm on this. It will be the starting point for a type pastoral care that must start from renewed concepts.

In his message, the Pope expresses his sorrow at the discrimination that people with disabilities have suffered within the Church, in particular when they have been denied access to the sacraments.

At the presentation of the Pope's message was Antonietta, who suffers from a disability. She is 31 years old, and has a blind sister. Her mother cares for them both.

ANTONIETTA PANTONE
It will seem strange, but I understood the importance of being with Jesus after Communion, because I understood that He was not a person who kept me away from the church, but that He held out his hand to me and wanted to be with me, despite all my difficulties. With Antoinette. As I grew up I understood that I didn't want to let go of this hand.

The Pope says in his message that the greatest form of discrimination the Church can commit against people with disabilities is to not provide them with enough spiritual attention. 

ANTONIETTA PANTONE
I do not deny that with my challenges it is difficult to do everything in the Church but I too, as a disciple of Jesus, am tasked with something. I always say that my problem is visible but that there are others where their problem is inside of them and is not seen.

To show the role of people with disabilities in the Church, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life will launch an initiative, called #IamChurch and consists of 5 videos featuring people with disabilities from different parts of the world, such as a monastery in France where nuns with Down syndrome live.

JRB

TR: JM