Today is the International Day of People with Disability. It’s a day for us to focus on the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disability and how everyone can be included in all aspects of life.
Pope Frances has asked us to “Have the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against because of their disability, because unfortunately in some countries, even today, it is difficult to recognise them as persons of equal dignity, as brothers and sisters in humanity.”
In June of this year, the Vatican released a new Directory for Catechesis which affirms the full inclusion of people with disability in religious life. “People with disabilities are called to the fullness of sacramental life, even in the presence of serious disturbances,” it states.
It continues: “The sacraments are gifts of God and the liturgy, even before being rationally understood, asks to be lived: therefore, no one can deny the sacraments to people with disabilities.”
Following the release of the Directory, Bishop Vincent Long, OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta said, “The Body of Christ is called to be a faithful witness to the Gospel, with each member having a crucial personal mission. The revised and expanded Catechesis guidelines support people with disability to participate in the sacramental life of the Church and share their own gifts.”
The theme of International Day of People with Disability for 2020 is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-Covid World,” in recognition of the difficulties many have experienced in 2020, and with a view toward the future.
“2020 has presented many challenges, particularly to those who have been greatly impacted by Covid-19,” Bishop Vincent explained. “For people with disability and older people, the necessary restrictions to control the virus may have resulted in greater isolation, exclusion and loneliness.”
He continued by reminding us that we need to create accessible and inclusive environments to support the dignity and participation of all. “Every one of our brothers and sisters is welcome and supported to fully and equally participate in our Church,” he said.
As well as recognition and reflection, it’s a day for celebration too.
CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains invites you watch this series of fun videos made by their clients and supported employees of what they are most proud of, what makes them happy and their favourite joke!
CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains is a service of the Diocese of Parramatta and comes under the pastoral care and authority of the Bishop of Parramatta. It provides Disability Services under the NDIS including employment, recreation and social activities, life skills, personal care and NSW Plan management. You can find out more at ccss.org.au.
With thanks to CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, and Tracy McLeod Howe who is the Head of Safeguarding in the Office of Safeguarding at the Diocese of Parramatta.