Disabilities Day: The Church strives to uphold the rights and dignity of all

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International Day for People with Disabilities

The International Day for People with Disabilities is celebrated on 3 December. To mark this important day, the Catholic Church is promoting a time of universal prayer. The Department for Social Justice of the Bishops’ Conference welcomes the initiative and is encouraging Catholics across England and Wales to take the opportunity to join the online broadcasts on the theme “Because You care for us” inspired by the quote from 1 Peter 5:7. More information can be found in our ‘Events’ section.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has long promoted the rights of those of all abilities, calling on Catholics to bear witness to the pain of exclusion and to commit to changing the culture of society so that it values the dignity of all life from conception to natural death. The gifts and talents of people with disabilities should be upheld and celebrated.

We must continue in our efforts to ensure all people feel that they can participate fully in the life and mission of the Church. Today, let us turn our attention again towards this issue and highlight the work being done in the Church and beyond.

In Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, he made explicit reference to the importance of disability inclusion:

“Many persons with disabilities ‘feel that they exist without belonging and without participating’. Much still prevents them from being fully enfranchised. Our concern should be not only to care for them but to ensure their ‘active participation in the civil and ecclesial community. That is a demanding and even tiring process, yet one that will gradually contribute to the formation of consciences capable of acknowledging each individual as a unique and unrepeatable person’.

“I think, too, of ‘the elderly who, also due to their disability, are sometimes considered a burden’. Yet each of them is able to offer ‘a unique contribution to the common good through their remarkable life stories’.

“Let me repeat: we need to have ‘the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against due to their disability, because sadly, in some countries even today, people find it hard to acknowledge them as persons of equal dignity'”

Diocesan Disability Advisors Audit

The Department for Social Justice continues to work to support Catholic dioceses and parishes to do the following:

  • appoint a dedicated Disability Advisor
  • source and provide the best resources for inclusive and creative catechesis and liturgy
  • engage with parliamentarians to ensure disability equality is a priority of the government

To contribute to our ongoing diocesan disability advisors audit, or for more information, please contact anna.fraine@cbcew.org.uk.

International Event

The online global event will be broadcast on the 3 December between 18:00 and 19:00 (UK time) via these links.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/ChiesaCattolicaItaliana
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/conferenzaepiscopaleitaliana/


Statement of Principles: Disability (Department for Social Justice)

More about the International Day of People with Disabilities can be found here:
International Day of People with Disabilities | About the Movement

Resources from 2020

A Parish Guide to Disability published by the Catholic Disability Fellowship, in collaboration with the Diocese of Harrisburg (USA)

Art of Dying Well: Accompanying people with a learning disability through death and bereavement during Covid-19

You might also find useful this recent webinar, Palliative Care for people with learning disability.

The Bible and Disabilities was a focus of the God Who Speaks campaign in 2020. Articles can be found here:

A life to the full – People with disabilities

A parable of unity