"A disabled person not only receives, but also gives," insists Pope Francis at December audience.
Disabled persons must be placed “at the center of everyone’s attention and of politics,” Pope Francis said during an audience with members of an Italian institute for people with physical or mental disabilities on Dec. 13, 2021. “This is a goal of civilization,” he added.
“If disability or illness makes life more difficult, it is no less worthy of being lived, and lived to the fullest,” the head of the Catholic Church assured the attendants and patients of the Seraphic Institute of Assisi that he was receiving in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. He thanked the members of this institute founded in 1871 in Assisi by St. Ludovico de Casoria, a Franciscan friar canonized by Pope Francis in 2014.
The pontiff pleaded for the disabled person to be considered “one of us.” “Who […] does not sooner or later come up against limitations, even serious ones?” he asked.
Pope Francis then reversed the typical perspective on disability: caring for a disabled person is not a one-way gesture, “but an exchange of gifts,” he said. “A disabled person not only receives, but also gives,” he insisted, explaining that this principle applies “to everyone,” whether Christian or not.
The State must do its part
The 266th pope then asked states and public administrations to “do their part.” “We cannot leave behind the many families who are forced to struggle to support children in difficulty,” he pleaded. However, he said that “not everything should be expected from public agencies.”
This is the second time that Pope Francis has met with members of the Seraphic Institute of Assisi: in 2013, while visiting the Umbrian city, he spent time with sick children in the care of the institution. He called them to “listen” to the wounds of God present in the Eucharist, but also “hidden” in each of the young people they accompany.