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'Living Fully 2016': aiming for a sea change in how we perceive disability

Pope Francis with a disabled boy during a special audience  in the Vatican in May - REUTERS

Pope Francis with a disabled boy during a special audience in the Vatican in May - REUTERS

24/06/2016 12:51

(Vatican Radio) A three-day event entitled “Living Fully 2016: Disability, Culture and Faith” is taking place in the Vatican.

The initiative is organised by the Kairos Forum and takes place under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and other organizations that work with disability.

The aim of the gatherings is to celebrate the lives and stories of disabled people within culture and faith, and introduces the study of disability theology from within a cultural perspective.

Amongst the participants are Mary O’Meara, Executive Director for the Department of special needs ministries for the Archdiocese of Washington, and Terry O’Meara, Executive Director for the International Catholic Foundation for the Service of Deaf Persons.

The O’Mearas dropped into Vatican Radio on the first day of the event and told Linda Bordoni the conference aims for a cultural change that will transform disabled people into the protagonists of society and the Church on a par with everyone else.

Listen to their extended conversation: 

Mary O’Meara says that after this empowering event, she hopes the momentum will push forward into a deeper relationship with disabled persons where there is more of a dialogue.

“For so long now we have been talking about persons with disabilities – we have been providing access by providing ramps or having an interpreter present – but I would like to see now a culture of ‘belonging’, where we’re not just talking ‘about’, but in communion ‘with’” she says.

Terry says he wants to see deaf people “become leaders in their communities, leaders within the Church”.

Hopefully, he says, we will see more and more deaf people become priests, sisters and deacons and participating fully in the life of the Church.       

“Most deaf people are educated to a high degree; they have the capabilities of being involved in anything and in all parts of the life of the Church”.

The O’Mearas also speak of the inspiration and hope that has emerged in the world of disability following Pope Francis’ call for inclusion of disabled people in society.

(Linda Bordoni)
24/06/2016 12:51