“Us” and “them.” “We”, the able-bodied people. “Them,” the disabled ones. Unfortunately from “us” often comes towards “them” a series of unspeakable feelings: at best pity, at worst annoyance. It seems incredible, but today’s world is still this: a place where people with disabilities find themselves having to face ignorance and prejudice.
Men and women with disabilities are “among the most fragile among us,” recalls Pope Francis, who dedicates his December prayer intention to them. Some “experience a rejection – he adds – which transforms them into outcasts”: it is therefore time to “change our mentality a little.” Francis asks institutions and the Church itself to open-up “to the talents of people with different abilities,” because they really have many.
The protagonists of the Pope’s December Video, which accompanies his words, are confirmation of this: scenes from Paralympic athletes who successfully challenge their limits in various international competitions, as well as friends of the Community of Sant’Egidio who paint works of art or serve at the tables of a restaurant; from the visually impaired Jesuit, theologian in Australia, to the nun committed to Lourdes, who participated in the general assembly of the Synod.
This month’s prayer intention therefore involves us on two levels. One is the political one: Francis asks that “people with disabilities be at the center of society’s attention” and invites institutions to promote “programs that promote inclusion” through “access to education, employment and areas in which creativity is expressed.” The other level is the personal and ecclesial one: the Pope reminds us that to define ourselves as welcoming it is not enough to remove architectural barriers in the parish, but we need “big hearts that are willing to accompany.” By stopping talking about “them,” as if they were a separate category, and starting to talk about a single “us.”
Coordinator of the Pope’s Video