On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Pope Francis said we must “acknowledge the dignity of each person,” as doing otherwise is social sin.

Pope Francis’ gave his message marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, held annually every year on December 3rd, the theme of which this year is “the future is accessible.”

He recognized that “great progress has been made towards people with disabilities in the medical and welfare fields,” but called out todays “throwaway culture” that makes them “feel that they exist without belonging and without participating.”

“This calls not only for the rights of people with disabilities to be protected, but it also exhorts us to make the world more human by removing everything that prevents them from having full citizenship, the obstacles of prejudice, and by promoting the accessibility of places and quality of life.”

He said we must “recognize the dignity of each one, knowing that it does not depend on the functionality of the five senses”, for their “unique contribution to the common good through their original life story.”

“Let us not forget the many ‘hidden exiles,’ who live within our homes, our families, our societies. People of every age, especially the elderly who, also due to disabilities, are at times considered a burden, a ‘cumbersome presence,’ and risk being discarded, of being denied concrete job prospects for the construction of their future.”

Pope Francis said our culture cannot place them in the minor “leagues,” and that not recognizing the dignity of those with disabilities is a “social sin” as “taught by the Gospel.” He invited all to “have the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against because of their disability.”

“Making good laws and breaking down physical barriers is important, but it is not enough, if the mentality does not change, if we do not overcome a widespread culture that continues to produce inequalities, preventing people with disabilities from actively participating in ordinary life.”

You can read the full message here on the Vatican website.

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  1. “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” This phrase takes on new meaning when you birth a child with a disability. Everyone prays during pregnancy, ‘I don’t care if it’s a boy or girl, as long as it’s healthy’. And therein lies the rub. These folks are missing the whole point. Each child is God’s gift to us, the closest we’ll ever get to any human experience of the Holy Trinity. Only arrogant vanity dictates what that gift should look like. My beautiful daughter was born in 2000 with Down syndrome. Some saw her birth as punishment for past sin. Pregnant women would see us together and their looks clearly conveyed ‘oh God, let that not be me’. My three sons have infinite capacity to love, not only their younger sister, but all those deemed weak, obsolete, irrelevant, disposable. They notice bullying and cannot abide it. They notice exclusion and extend invitation. They help darling little old ladies across the street without startling them. They help veterans maintain their work ethic and self-discipline. Thanks to personal contact with, and connection to, disability, they don’t fear it. Blessings abound when priorities are perfected. “There, but for the grace of God, go I?” You bet I do. I might have led a life of distortion, but in God’s infinite wisdom, His divine love poured Heaven into my time on earth. Pure unconditional love every second of every day for twenty years. Glory be to the Trinity!


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