Pope Francis this morning met with 37 bishops, including emeritus prelates, and one priest who is the diocesan administrator of Shreveport in Louisiana, from Regions IV and V of the USCCB who are in Rome on their ad limina visit. These mandatory visits normally take place every five years but the US prelates were last in Rome on ad limina in 2011. Region IV includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia, and the Military Archdiocese. Region V prelates are from Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
POPE: MAKE WORLD MORE HUMAN BY GUARANTEEING THE DIGNITY OF THE DISABLED
On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3rd, Pope Francis recalls how the promotion of the right to participation plays a central role in combating discrimination and promoting a culture of encounter and quality of life.
By Lydia O’Kane
In his message marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Pope Francis notes that “great progress has been made towards people with disabilities in the medical and welfare fields.”
But he highlights the fact that even today there is still a culture of waste with many disabled people feeling that “\”they exist without belonging and without participating.”
Protection of rights
The Pope stresses that “all this calls not only for the rights of people with disabilities and their families to be protected,” but “it also urges us to make the world more human” by removing prejudice.
It is necessary, Pope Francis writes, “to take care of and accompany people with disabilities in every condition of life, also making use of current technologies,” so that they can actively and with dignity participate in both civil and ecclesial communities.
He also says, that the accessibility of places and quality of life need to be promoted, taking into account all the dimensions of the human being.
In the message, the Pope emphasizes “the many ‘hidden exiles’ who live in our homes, our families and our societies.”
“I am thinking of people of all ages, especially the elderly who, also because of their disability, are sometimes felt as a burden, as ‘cumbersome presences’, and are in danger of being discarded, of being denied concrete job prospects to participate in the construction of their own future.”
Pope Francis stresses that “we need to develop antibodies against a culture that considers some lives” first or second-class. “This is a social sin,” he says.
A change of mentality needed
On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Pontiff invites people 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,” the Pope writes, “but it is not enough, if the mentality does not change.”
Concluding his message, Pope Francis encourages “all those who work with people with disabilities to continue with this important service and commitment, which determines the degree of civilization of a nation.”
HOLY SEE, SANT’EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO BRING REFUGEES TO ITALY FROM LESBOS
A December 2 communique from Apostolic Almsgiver:
“The Holy Father Francis, on the occasion of his trip to the Island of Lesbos in April 2016, brought back to Italy three Syrian families seeking asylum. The Holy See took on the charge of welcoming and sustaining them, while hospitality and integration were assumed by the Sant’Egidio Community.
“Last May, three years after that event, the Pope asked the Apostolic Almsgiver (Office of Papal Charities) to return to the island to renew solidarity with the Greek people and refugees, and he also expressed the desire to make a further gesture of solidarity and host a group of young refugees and some families from Afghanistan, Cameroon and Togo.
“After an intense period of official negotiations between the competent authorities, in order to carry out this new humanitarian corridor the Interior Ministry of the Italian Republic gave final assent to carrying out the operation.
“Therefore today, December 2, the papal Almsgiver* returned to the Island of Lesbos, together with some leaders of the Sant’Egidio Community. They will return to Italy on December 4 with a group of 33 refugees requesting political asylum. This operation will end in December, when another 10 refugees will be accompanied to Italy, thus starting the procedures necessary for the request for international protection.
“Welcoming these refugees will be assumed by the Holy See, through the Apostolic Almsgiving office and by the Sant’Egidio Community.”
A Vaticannews story with the title, “Two families in Luxembourg,” noted that, on November 19 the archdiocese of Luxembourg, led by new Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich who, in May, had participated in the mission of Cardinal Krajewski to Lesbos, also opened its doors to two families of refugees from the same camps on the Greek island, one originally from Kuwait with two children aged 8 and 5 and one from Syria with twins aged almost two years.
* The head of the Apostolic Almsgiving Office (Office of Papal Charities) is Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, also known as the papal almsgiver. (https://www.elemosineria.va/)