Pope Francis to have exclusive audience with deaf and blind people

In a first for a Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis is to have an exclusive audience with people who are blind and deaf.

The audience is scheduled for March 29 in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall.

Participants can hardly wait for the encounter.

“I am pleased that the Pope is making the whole world aware of our world by having an audience with us for the first time” said Jakob Badde of Germany, who is deaf.

“We have a great deficiency and most people do not know why and what it means to us,” he said.

There has never been an officlal papal audience for the deaf, Mr Badde said.

“There have probably always been deaf at (events of) other popes on the side.”

“But a Pope has never invited us on the basis of being deaf.”

Mr Badde hoped that Pope Francis could help change the lives of deaf people for the better.

From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has reached out to people with disabilities.

In one of many examples, in January he met Ileana Argentin, a member of the Italian Parliament, who has spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair.

“I am Catholic and I’ve always believed, but Pope Francis really has made a difference for the handicapped,” she said.

When, just a couple weeks after his election, images went around the world of him holding and kissing an 8-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, “the first wall, that of prejudice, fell”, Argentin said.



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