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That at least one person with disability be allowed to participate in the work of the Synod on Synodality

(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 21.09.2022).- At the end of the General Audience, a number of people with disabilities met with the  Holy Father and presented him with the most significant results of the special synodal listening session they  participated in over the past few months.

Last May, the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, in agreement with the General Secretariat of the  Synod, invited some faithful with disabilities to actively participate in the synodal journey by bringing their  contribution through an open dialogue with the Holy See. These were people from the five continents  representing bishops’ conferences and international associations who, in many cases, had already  participated in synodal consultations at the diocesan level.

After an online meeting that launched the process, everyone was invited to send in their own written text,  starting with the Synod’s fundamental inquiry on Synodality. In these days, a team representing all the  participants in the listening session met in Rome to deliver the synthesis of the work to the General  Secretariat of the Synod.

This initiative stems in the wake of the reflection that the Dicastery launched about two years ago with  regard to the inclusion of persons with disabilities and their full participation in the life of the Church: for  an institution called to deal with the lay faithful, this is not simply a new area of pastoral action, rather an  affirmation – a decisive one – that the baptismal vocation is truly for everyone, with no exclusions.

The synod journey proved to be a particularly fruitful time to respond to the fundamental issue that the  faithful with disabilities present with respect to the life of the Church: being fully included in the life of God’s  people.

From the work of these months of consultation, it has resulted that some concrete steps need to be taken in  order to achieve this. First and foremost, there must be a change of mentality that involves saying “us, not  them” when speaking about people with disabilities; recognizing – as Pope Francis recently did – that there is  a true “magisterium of frailty”; working so that our ecclesial communities become accessible, both in terms  of removing architectural barriers and allowing the participation of those with sensory or cognitive  disabilities; reaffirming that “no one can refuse the Sacraments to people with disabilities”; understanding  that disability is not inevitably linked to suffering and that societies and the Church can do much to avoid  unnecessary discrimination.

On the other hand, the synod path has been an opportunity for those faithful with disabilities who travelled  along it to understand more deeply how, in order to live one’s life to the fullest, it is necessary not to consider  oneself only as a person in need but, like everyone else, called to give to others: “we cannot limit ourselves  to fighting for justice and inclusion for ourselves.”

Even with this in mind, a request was made that at least one person with disability be allowed to participate  in the work of the Synod on Synodality.

Delivering the synthesis to the Pope, one of the participants said: “We thank you because the Synod has  given us the opportunity to make the Church even more inclusive”. The Holy Father replied: “I give thanks to  you! Please continue to pray for me”.