Pope says disabled Catholics have a right to the sacraments

disabled Catholics

Pope Francis marked International Day of Persons with Disabilities by insisting all disabled Catholics have a right to receive the sacraments.

Francis also suggested that Catholic parishes make real efforts to welcome and train persons with disabilities to serve as catechists.

“Creating a fully accessible parish requires not only the removal of architectural barriers, but above all, helping parishioners to develop attitudes and acts of solidarity and service toward persons with disabilities and their families,” the pope said in his message.

“I strongly reaffirm the right of persons with disabilities to receive the sacraments, like all other members of the church.

All liturgical celebrations in the parish should be accessible to them. So that, together with their brothers and sisters, each of them can deepen, celebrate and live their faith.”

“I reiterate the need to make available suitable and accessible means for handing on the faith,” he said. “No one should be excluded from the grace of these sacraments.”

Francis emphasized, by virtue of baptism, disabled Catholics are called to missionary discipleship as much as every other baptized person. He encouraged parishes to include them not only as “recipients” of pastoral ministry, but also as “active subjects.”

The U.N. theme for the 2020 celebration of the international day was ‘Building Back Better: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.’

Pope Francis said he was struck by the expression ‘building back better’. It made him think of the Gospel story about a house built on rock or on sand.

When used in reference to the way society, and the church, treats persons with disabilities, he said, the rain, rivers and winds that threaten the house in the Bible story “can be identified with the throwaway culture widespread in our time.”

To “build back better,” he said, inclusion is key. Because “the strength of a chain depends upon the attention paid to its weakest links.”


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