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Pope's December prayer: For people with disabilities

Places, mentalities must be more receptive, embrace inclusion, Francis says

VATICAN CITY | In The Pope Video for December 2023, Pope Francis asks for prayers for people with disabilities so that they “may be at the center of attention in society.”

“It means changing our mentality a little and opening ourselves to the abilities and talents of these people who are differently abled,” the Holy Father reflects.

In addition, Pope Francis calls on institutions to promote “inclusion programs that enhance” the active participation of persons with disabilities. “Programs and initiatives are needed that promote their inclusion,” Pope Francis says.

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Through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, the Holy Father asks “that people with disabilities be at the center of attention in society, and that institutions offer inclusion programs that enhance their active participation.”

This prayer intention coincides with the month in which the UN established the International Day of People with Disabilities (December 3) with the objective of promoting their rights and well-being. Pope Francis insists on the concept of “differently abled” to underline the huge contribution that the full inclusion and appreciation of the most fragile people can bring to society.

This is attested to by the images that accompany the pope’s words: different stories that together show the capacity of enhancing the talents of people with disabilities. From scenes of paralympic athletes who successfully challenge their own limitations in various international competitions, to those of showing the friends of the Community of Sant’Egidio painting works of art or serving tables in a restaurant. Others show a Jesuit theologian in Australia who has a visual disability, another, a nun with Down’s Syndrome ministering in Lourdes, both of whom participated in a meeting prior to the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which was recounted in the #IAmChurch campaign sponsored by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

The Pope Video this month, produced in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, is a song to life itself, as well as an appeal to change our way of thinking.

In our world today, Pope Francis reports, some people with disabilities “suffer rejection, rooted in either ignorance or prejudice, which then marginalizes them.” It is, therefore, time to “change our mentality a little and open ourselves to the abilities and talents of these people who are differently abled, both in society as well as in the life of the Church.”

The pope then asks civil institutions to support the projects of people with disabilities, by providing “access to education, employment, and places where they can express their creativity” and with initiatives “that promote their inclusion.”

The Church, he says, should not limit itself to eliminating physical barriers,” but should also “stop talking about ‘them’ and start talking about ‘us.’” He reiterates to all of us that, “big hearts are needed who want to accompany.”

Comments from readers

Donna Malchrist - 12/18/2023 07:19 AM
I believe with all my heart that disabled persons should have the opportunity to be able to give back to their communities in so many ways.They can work in food pantries, or in nursing homes They also can help in teaching sign language to hearing impaired people..Ostracizing or ridiculing others is morally and ethically wrong.May God bless this beautiful country.The United States of America
Sister Lidia Valli - 12/08/2023 11:35 AM
At the Marian Center people with diverse abilities feel at home. They are involved and integrated with volunteers and staff. Thank you Pope Francis for helping us to consider the needs of people with diverse abilities. Sister Lidia