Physical vulnerability can be a resource for society, church, says pope


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians who work with people with physical disabilities should be motivated by a sense of solidarity, not pity, and they should promote people’s active participation, not their passive reception of help, said Pope Francis.

“I see you as a constructive force in society,” he told members of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired during a December 12 Vatican audience. The meeting took place the day before the feast of Saint Lucy, patroness of the blind, and the anniversary of the priestly ordination of the pope, he told them.

“We usually associate a disability with the idea of ​​need, assistance and, sometimes – thank God less and less – with a certain pietism” which seeks to relieve someone’s pain without feeling any honest empathy, has told them. said Pope Francis.

However, he said, “the Christian view of disability is no longer and must no longer be pietism and simple welfarism, but the awareness that vulnerability, assumed with responsibility and solidarity, is a resource for everyone in society and for the ecclesial community”. .”

Pope Francis said blind and partially sighted people, uplifted by ethical principles and a sense of civic duty, “are at the forefront of building inclusive communities, where everyone can participate without being ashamed of their limitations and weaknesses, working with others to complement and support each other.”

Everyone, not just those with physical difficulties, needs “help from each other to move forward in life, because we are all fragile in our hearts, all of us”, he said.

The pope praised the 100 years of work of the non-profit, non-religious Italian association, saying that by “protecting the rights of visually impaired people, you have cooperated in the civic growth of the country. I encourage you to move forward with an increasingly constructive and proactive style, as a force that brings confidence and hope.

“Italian society needs hope, and this comes above all from the testimony of people who, in their own fragile condition, do not isolate themselves, do not feel sorry for themselves, but work with others to make things better,” the pope said.

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