(Vatican Radio) As 2016 draws to a close, many people will be taking stock of the year and its events. So what was this year like for those with disabilities and those who work with them?
It was the year that saw the world focus its attention on Paralympic athletes as they took part in Paralympic Games in Brazil. It was also the year that marked the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The Church too shone the spotlight on the issue of disability when the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture along with the Kairos Forum sponsored an academic symposium and a conference regarding disability, theology and culture entitled, Living Fully 2016. The aim of the June event was to highlight the gifts of all people, especially people who live with disability.
For those who worked tirelessly to make the conference a reality, the year ends on a high note with the issuing of a statement and charter which has been produced directly from the delegates of the Living Fully 2016 events and offers key recommendations.
Cristina Gangemi, is 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. She spoke to Lydia O’Kane about this major outcome of the conference.
“It’s quite different from various other documents that over the past 20 years…what we’ve actually put in the statement is what we the Church believe about disability …”, she said.
“What we hope to do is to take the statement and write a programme of catechesis, so it can move from just being a statement and a charter to action that parishes can engage in to make the words become a reality for them.”
Cristina adds, that “the Church, who is the greatest advocate for the sanctity of all life must be, I feel the first group, institution, organization, universal community that says, “we won’t lag behind…and we will be a leading voice; a shining light in the whole journey of human rights…””