(Vatican Radio) This summer the issue of disability will be firmly under the spotlight with major events taking place celebrating the value of disabled people.
The eyes of the world will be on Paralympic athletes when they take part in the Paralympic games in Brazil in August and the Vatican ‘s Pontifical Council for Culture along with the Kairos Forum will be sponsoring an academic symposium and a conference regarding disability, theology and culture entitled, Living Fully 2016.
So with attention focusing on this important issue, how far have we come and what strides still need to be made regarding acceptance and accessibility for people with disabilities?
Vatican Radio’s Lydia O’Kane put that question to Cristina Gangemi, a disability advisor to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Director of the Kairos Forum which seeks to highlight and respond to the spiritual and religious needs of people with disabilities.
Listen to the interview
She says, “there is definitely, definitely much more being done within the realm of disability and faith.” Cristina adds that with her experience as a disability advisor she has seen “an incredible growth in knowledge”, especially in her own diocese of Southwark in England.
“…I think that where we are is that we’re on that journey, she says, but certainly it’s a more exciting time now than ever before and we either take up the mandate and the call we’ve been given or leave it to another generation.”
Every four years after intense training athletes put that hard work to the test at the Olympic and Paralympic games. In August Brazil will take centre stage when it plays host to the world’s greatest sporting event.
In 2012 London hosted the Paralympic games which were the largest Paralympics ever. According to Cristina, “there was an incredible legacy in the UK from the Paralympic games and the issue of disability was highlighted.”
But she also adds, that there is a real opportunity for Brazil as a Catholic country to show that the Paralympics embodies, “everything the Catholic Church teaches about the dignity of the human person .”
Living Fully 2016; Embracing the gifts of all people, especially people who live with Disability runs from the 23rd to the 26th June.