Apr 25th, 2019
Source: Vatican Media
Pope Francis received members of the Italian Federation of Associations for the Deaf at the Vatican today, (Thursday 25 April), and stressed the need for inclusion and a culture of encounter.
The Federation was founded in 1920 in order to “counter the isolation, marginalization, and humiliation of the hearing and speech impaired.”
The Holy Father told them their mission has grown in its mission and is now also dedicated to “tackling the culture of waste, and encouraging greater inclusion in all environments.”
This work is necessary, he said, in order “to ensure a better quality of life for the deaf person and the overcoming of this disability by valuing all dimensions, including the spiritual one.”
While his words were simultaneously translated into sign language, Pope Francis said: “Deaf people inevitably experience a condition of fragility.” Like so many other people with disabilities, they also often experience forms of prejudice, even in Christian communities. “This is not right.”
The deaf teach us that only by accepting our limitations and fragilities can we help build “the culture of encounter”, as opposed to widespread indifference, he said.
“God’s presence is not perceived with the ears, but with faith.” said Pope Francis. God’s voice resounds in each person’s heart, “and everyone can hear it.” The Pope invited those present to “help those who do not ‘hear’ God’s voice to be more attentive to it.”
Finally, Pope Francis offered his prayers for all deaf people throughout the world, “especially those who live in conditions of marginalization and poverty” I pray that you “may bring your special contribution to society”, he said, and that you “may be capable of a prophetic gaze, capable of accompanying processes of sharing and inclusion, of cooperating in the revolution of tenderness and closeness.”