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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pope Francis' words of encouragement for those working with the disabled and those who are marginalized

At 12:15pm today, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the members of the Capodarco Community and shared with them the following words:

Address of His Holiness, Pope Francis
to members of the Capodarco Community

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am pleased to meet with you and pleased by what I have heard, very pleased, and I greet you all with affection.  With all my heart, I thank Father Franco Monterubbianesi, the founder of your Community, and Father Vinicio Albanesi, your current President, for their words; and I thank all of you who have shared your testimonies.

The Capadoarco Community, which exists in many local communities, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.  With you, I thank the Lord for the good that has been accomplished throughout these years of service to disabled persons, children and those who live in situations of dependency and discomfort, and their families.  You have chosen to stand on the side of these less-protected persons, in order to offer them welcome, support and hope, in a dynamic of sharing.  In this way, you have contributed and you continue to contribute toward creating a better society.

The quality of life within a society is measured, in good part, by its ability to include those who are weak and in need, in compliance with the dignity of each man and woman.  Maturity is reached when this inclusion is not perceived as something extraordinary, but normal.  Even a person with physical, psychological or moral disability and fragility should be able to participate in the life of society and be assisted so that he might implement his potential in various dimensions.  Only by recognizing the rights of the weak, can a society be said to be founded on law and justice.  A society that grants space only to persons who are fully functioning, fully autonomous and independent will never be a society worthy of mankind.  Discrimination based on efficiency is no less deplorable than discrimination based on race, creed or religion.

In recent decades, your Community has constantly placed itself in attentive and loving listening to the lives of people, striving to respond to the needs of each one, taking into account their capacities and limits.  Your approach to the weak supersedes a pietistic approach and a welfare approach, in order to favour attention paid to people with difficulties and in a community context that is not closed in upon itself but open to all of society.  I encourage you to continue along this path, which includes a focus on personal and direct action by the disabled themselves.  Faced with economic problems and the negative consequences of globalization, your Community seeks to help those who find themselves trying not to feel excluded or marginalized, but on the contrary, journeying on the front lines, bearing witness through their own personal experience.  It's a matter of promoting dignity and respect for every individual, making even those who consider themselves to be life's losers capable of knowing the tenderness of God, the loving Father of his creation.

Once again, I wish to thank you for the witness you give to society, helping all people to discover more and more the dignity that is their due, beginning with the poor, the most disadvantaged.  Institutions, associations and various agencies involved in social promotion are called to favour the effective inclusion of these people.  You work for this purpose with generosity and competence, with the courageous help of families and volunteers who remember the significance and the value of every life.  Welcoming all these little ones, marked by mental and physical impediments, or by wounds to their souls, you recognize in them, special witnesses of the tenderness of God, from whom we have much to learn and who also enjoy a place of privilege in the Church.  In fact, their participation in the ecclesial community opens the way to simple and fraternal relationships, and their filial and spontaneous prayer invites us all to pray to our heavenly Father.

Your Association began with pilgrimages to the shrines of Lourdes and Loretto, in which Father Franco sensed the way to develop human and spiritual resources which are inherent in every person living with a disability.  In your activities, which are so precious for the Church and for society, the Virgin Mother has always accompanied you and continues to do so, helping you every time to find renewed energies and to maintain in the style of the gospel the virtues of tenderness, kindness, closeness and even courage, the spirit of sacrifice, because it is not easy to work in the field of personal and social discomfort.

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you once again for your visit.  I bless you and I accompany you with my prayers, that your community may continue to walk with joy and hope.  And you too, please, pray for me.  Thank you!

And I invite you to pray to our Mother, she who gives her strength to mothers, to women, to you, to all of us who continue our work.  Hail Mary ...

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