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New Brunswick

No one excluded – L’Osservatore Romano

During an audience with a group of people with disabilities on Saturday, December 3, the International Day of People with Disabilities, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of turning “indifference into closeness” and “exclusion into belonging”. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s speech in Italian in the Hall of Clementines.

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning!

It is my pleasure to meet you today on the occasion of the International Day of People with Disabilities. I thank Monsignor Giuseppe Baturi for his words and also for the efforts of the Churches in Italy to keep the attention of people with disabilities alive through active and inclusive pastoral actions. Promoting the recognition of the dignity of every human being is an ongoing task of the Church. It is the mission, over time, to continue the closeness of Jesus Christ to every man and woman, especially the weakest and most vulnerable. The Lord is near.

Receiving people with disabilities and responding to their needs is a duty of the civil and ecclesial community, because “even if disabled people are mentally handicapped or their sensory or intellectual faculties are impaired, they are full human beings and possess the sacred and inalienable rights that belong to every human being creature” (John Paul ii Message to the participants of the International Symposium “The Dignity and Rights of the Mentally Disabled, January 8, 2004).

This is how Jesus looked at the people he met: with a look of tenderness and mercy, especially towards those who were excluded from the attention of the powerful and even the religious leaders of his time. Every time the Christian community transforms indifference into closeness – that is a true conversion: transforming indifference into closeness and closeness – every time the Church does this and transforms exclusion into belonging, she is fulfilling her very prophetic mission. In fact, defending people’s rights is not enough. It is also necessary to work to address their existential needs as well, in their various dimensions, physical, psychological, social and spiritual. In fact, every man and woman, in whatever situation, is the bearer not only of rights that need to be recognized and guaranteed, but also of even deeper demands, such as the need to belong, to connect with others, and to cultivate spiritually Live to the point of finding its fullness and to bless the Lord for this unique and wonderful gift.

So creating and supporting inclusive communities – this word is important, always inclusive – means eliminating all discrimination and genuinely satisfying the need for every human being to feel recognized and part of it. In fact, there is no inclusion without the experience of fraternity and mutual communion. There is no inclusion if this remains a slogan, a formula to be used in politically correct speeches, a banner to be appropriated. There is no inclusion if there is a lack of conversion in coexistence and relationship practices.

It is a duty to guarantee people with disabilities access to buildings and meeting places, to make languages ​​accessible and to break down physical barriers and prejudices. However, this is not enough. There is a need to foster a spirituality of community so that each person feels part of a body with their unique personality. Only in this way can every person, with their limitations and talents, feel encouraged to do their part for the good of the entire ecclesial community and for the good of society as a whole.

I wish that all Christian communities are places where “belonging” and “inclusion” do not remain just words spoken on specific occasions, but become an objective of ordinary pastoral activity. In this way we can credibly proclaim that the Lord loves all, that he is salvation for all and that he invites all without exclusion to the banquet of life.

I am very touched when the Lord tells the story of the man who had prepared a feast for his son’s wedding and the guests did not come (cf. Mt 22:1-14). He calls the servants and says: “Go to the thoroughfares and invite as many as you can find to the wedding feast”. The Lord intercedes for all: young, old, sick, healthy, small, tall, sinner and without sin… all, all, all! This is the Lord: all, without exclusion. The Church is the home of all, the heart of a Christian is the home of all, without exclusion. We have to learn that. We are sometimes a little tempted to take the path of exclusion. No: inclusion. The Lord taught us this: all. “But this one is ugly, this one is so…”. everyone, everyone Recording.

Dear brothers and sisters, at this time when we hear daily news of war, your witness is a tangible sign of peace, a sign of hope for a more humane and fraternal world for all. Continue on this path! I bless you from my heart and I pray for you. Thank you for what you do, thank you! And I ask you to pray for me. Thanks very much!

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