PAPAL AUDIENCE: THE SICK AND DISABLED, THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS AND THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

PAPAL AUDIENCE: THE SICK AND DISABLED, THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS AND THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

Ahead of the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis greeted sick and disabled people, saying God has a special place in His heart for people with a disability.

Pope Francis made a special stop in the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall on Wednesday to greet sick and disabled people, giving a warm welcome to the “Deaf Catholic Youth Initiative of the Americas” group and praying for the spiritual outcome of their pilgrimage to Rome.

“Dear friends,” said Francis, “I offer a warm welcome to the group from the ‘Deaf Catholic Youth Initiative of the Americas’. I pray that your pilgrimage – ‘A Time to Walk with Jesus’ – will help you to grow in love for Christ and for one another. The Lord has a special place in his heart for those with any kind of disability, and so does the Successor of Saint Peter! I hope that your time in Rome will be spiritually enriching and strengthen your witness to God’s love for all his children. As you continue your journey, I ask you please remember to pray for me. May Almighty God richly bless you all!”

Afterwards, outside in a sun-blessed St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father continued his new catechesis on the Ten Commandments.

“In our continuing catechesis on the commandments,” he began, “we now consider the text of the Decalogue, the ten commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The text begins with the words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery’ (Ex 20:2). God first identifies himself as our God, the God whose love sets us free from all that enslaves us.”

Francis explained that, “these words show that God’s ‘commands’ are really an invitation to respond with gratitude to his saving love, a love disclosed fully in the coming of Jesus his Son. Gratitude to God for his many gifts, and willingness to accept his offer of love, are at the heart of the Christian moral life; they inspire us to heed God’s words and obey his commands.”

The Pope then paused in his catechesis, leaving aside his prepared remarks, and he asked everyone to be silent for a moment and to think about all the reasons in their own lives that they have reason to be grateful to God.

Continuing his text, the Pope said, “If our obedience to God’s law is servile, mere legalism, then, like the ancient Israelites, we should cry out in prayer to be released from that slavery and to enjoy the freedom of God’s beloved children in Christ. God wants to break every chain that binds us, so that, in loving obedience to his will, we can enjoy true freedom and life in abundance.”

After the catechesis on the commandments, Pope Francis welcomed a delegation from the “Special Olympics” organization: “I extend a special welcome to the delegation from the Special Olympics organization on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation. The world of sport offers a particular opportunity for people to grow in mutual understanding and friendship, and I pray that this Olympic Flame may be a sign of joy and hope in the Lord who bestows the gifts unity and peace on his children. Upon all who support the aims of the Special Olympics, I willingly invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.”
(source: Vaticannews)

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INTERNATIONAL DISABILITY SYMPOSIUM “LIVING FULLY 2016” COMMENCES IN ROME

Perhaps you’ve read what I’ve previously written about this conference and perhaps even heard my interview with Cris Gangemi, director of The Kairos Forum, on my weekend radio program. “Vatican Insider.” Time allowing, I will be present at a session or two of this very important four-day conference, explained in the following news release today from The Kairos Forum.

INTERNATIONAL DISABILITY SYMPOSIUM “LIVING FULLY 2016” COMMENCES IN ROME

The international disability events “Living Fully 2016” began today in Rome with an academic symposium. The events were officially opened by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.  The four days will be a celebration of disability, culture and faith.  Theologians and practitioners in the field of disability – both physical and intellectual, are gathering from the four corners of the globe to share their knowledge, insights and experience to foster greater engagement in Church communities far and wide. The event is pioneered by The Kairos Forum, a Caritas member disability organisation in the UK.  Cristina Gangemi, director was delighted when the Pontifical Council for Culture offered to be co Patron of this unique event.

“We are enormously grateful to Cardinal Ravasi for his practical support thus enabling this event to become a reality.  We hope that the outcome will be a greater awareness and positive culture, that faith communities of belonging for all abilities can be a reality. Our collective experience demonstrates how enriching these inclusive communities are – both practically and spiritually.”

Speakers at the symposium and conference include Professor Hans Reinders and Reverend Bill Gaventa, both longstanding scholars in disability theology.  Sr. Veronica Donatello Director of The Office of Disability and Catechesis at C.E. Katie Toone, communications Director, will speak on the topic of Pope Francis’ recent quote “Everybody or Nobody.”  Exploring the spectrum of disability, Fr Bill Braviner who serves an Anglican parish on Teeside and David Lucas of Disability & Jesus, will speak about disability within the context of faith.

The website:  www.livingfully2016.com