SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE ITALIAN FEDERATION DEAF ASSOCIATION (FIAS)
Thursday, 25 April 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I greet everyone with affection and in a special way you deaf people, your family and friends present. I thank the President for the words with which she introduced our meeting.
For some years your Federation has been aggregating some Associations that, in Italy, are dedicated to facing the culture of waste, favoring greater inclusion in all environments. This work is necessary to ensure a better quality of life for the deaf person and the overcoming of this disability by valuing all the dimensions, including the spiritual one, in an integral vision of man.
Deaf people inevitably experience a condition of fragility; and this is part of life and can be accepted positively. What is not good, however, is that, like so many other people with different abilities and their families, they often experience situations of prejudice, sometimes even in Christian communities, as the President also recalled. Cities, countries and parishes, with their respective services, are increasingly called upon to overcome the barriers that do not allow us to grasp the potential of your active presence, going beyond your deficit. Instead, you teach us that only by inhabiting the limit and fragility can one be a builder, together with the leaders and all members of the civil and ecclesial community, of the culture of encounter, as opposed to widespread indifference. Thus, society and the community can be improved and deaf people can also be offered an existential fullness that takes into account all aspects of life in its various phases.
More than ever in the cultural and social context of today, even you deaf are a gift in the Church: "By virtue of the baptism received, every member of the People of God has become a missionary disciple. Every baptized person, whatever his function in the Church and the degree of education of his faith, is an active subject of evangelization "(Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 120). Therefore, even the presence of deaf people among pastoral workers, naturally formed according to their inclinations and capacities, can really represent a resource and an opportunity for evangelization. I sincerely hope that you too, both as individuals and on an associative level, may participate ever more fully in the life of your ecclesial communities. In this way you will be able to rediscover and put to good use the talents that the Lord has given you, for the benefit of families and of all the people of God.
The presence of God is not perceived with the ears, but with faith; therefore I encourage you to rekindle your faith to feel ever more the closeness of God, whose voice resounds in the heart of each one, and everyone can hear it. In this way you can help those who do not "hear" the voice of God to be more attentive to it. This is a significant contribution that deaf people can make to the vitality of the Church.
I think of the many deaf people in Italy and in the world. Especially those living in conditions of marginalization and misery. I pray for them. And I pray for you so that you can make your unique contribution to society, being capable of a prophetic gaze, capable of accompanying processes of sharing and inclusion, capable of cooperating in the revolution of tenderness and proximity. Your presence is also necessary in the Church to help build communities that are welcoming and open to all, starting with the last.
Thank you for your kind visit; I encourage you to continue your journey with joy, and as I ask you to pray for me, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing. Source of Text and Image: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation