Disabled deserves full rights, Pope says

In a message sent to the Brazilian church as it celebrates its annual Lenten Fraternity Campaign, Pope Benedict XVI calls for disabled individuals to be completely and compassionately inserted into society at large.

The pope, in a message written in Portuguese, said that the theme of this year's campaign, "Fraternity and Disabled People", "promotes reflection and is an encouragement to renew the commandment to charity with greater force, especially towards people suffering some form of disability."

What is needed, he said, is not simply "an attitude of tenderness and consolation," but the complete insertion into society of these "our brothers and sisters in Christ."

"Even when the problems [of disabled people] touch their minds or their sensorial and intellective capacities, they remain fully human, with the sacred and inalienable rights that belong to humans," the pope said.

He pointed out: "human beings, irrespective of the conditions in which they live and of the capacities they are capable of expressing, possess unique and extraordinary worth from the very beginning of their existence to the moment of natural death."

In his conclusion, Pope Benedict encouraged all people to "assume the dignity that God wished for us - which is an intrinsic part of this life."

He said that this means "adopting attitudes of commitment, at times heroic and worthy of eternal reward, not only for those who undergo such suffering, but also for those who help the most needy."

Pope: Disabled fully human, deserving of full rights (Catholic Online/Catholic News Agency 7/3/05)

Sandro Magister: Benedict XVI, Live. Fifteen Questions, and As Many Responses (L'Espresso 8/3/06)
Pope Appeals for Release of Kidnapped Boy (Zenit 7/3/06)
Benedict XVI Extols the Dignity of the Disabled (Zenit 7/3/06)
Jesus Calls Sinful Disciples, Retreatants Are Told (Zenit 7/3/06)

9 Mar 2006