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Pope Francis’ Message on the International Day of People with Disability

A women with down syndrome is reading something from her laptop in a modern apartment.

Pope Francis created a message for the International Day of People with Disability, 3 December 2022. 

In it he proclaims that all people have frailties, and all are called to experience and share the light of Christ, 

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities invites us to recognise that our frailty in no way obscures “the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ”, but instead reveals that “its extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us” ( 2 Cor 4:4,7).

The joy that radiates from those who encounter Jesus and entrust their lives to him is no illusion or the fruit of naiveté; it is the power of his resurrection penetrating lives marked by fragility.

Pope Francis, Message on the International Day of People with a Disability

He also gave special attention to people with disability that are caught in theatres of war such as Ukraine, 

On this Day, we want to be mindful of the sufferings of all those women and men with disabilities who live in the midst of war, or have been themselves disabled as a result of warfare. 

How many people – in Ukraine and in other theatres of war – remain imprisoned by ongoing conflicts, without the possibility of escape? They need to be given special attention and their access to humanitarian aid facilitated in every possible way.

Pope Francis, Message on the International Day of People with a Disability

Pope Francis also spoke about a magisterium of fragility, where people with disabilities teach others about their experience and faith, helping the church to be more inclusive, warm and welcoming, and become closer to the Church God wants us to be, 

This magisterium of fragility is a charism by which you – dear sisters and brothers with disabilities – can enrich the Church. Your presence “may help transform the actual situations in which we live, making them more human and more welcoming. Without vulnerability, without limits, without obstacles to overcome, there would be no true humanity”.  For this reason, I am pleased that the synodal journey is proving a favourable occasion to listen at last to your voices, and that an echo of your participation can be found in the preparatory document for the continental stage of the Synod.

The Synod, above all by its invitation to journey together and to listen to one another, can help us understand how in the Church – also with regard to the disabled – there can be no us and them, but a single us, with Jesus Christ at the centre, where each person brings his or her own gifts and limitations. 

We come to realise that we exist as an us and not a them whenever disability, whether temporary or due to natural aging, affects ourselves or someone for whom we care. Then we begin to look at reality with new eyes and we see the need to break down even those barriers that at first seemed insignificant. Nothing, however, can detract from our certainty that no disability – temporary, acquired or permanent – can change the fact that we are all children of the one Father and enjoy the same dignity. The Lord loves us all with the same tender, fatherly and unconditional love.

Pope Francis, Message on the International Day of People with a Disability

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