Holy Father Urges Respect for the Disabled

And That Includes the Unborn, He Stresses

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II made an urgent appeal, especially to politicians, to respect the life of the disabled, the weak and the poor, whether born or unborn.

The Pope made his appeal during his meeting Saturday with 50 members of the Christian Office of the Disabled, who arrived from France on pilgrimage, on the 40th anniversary of the office’s foundation.

Among those present was the founder, Marie Helene Mathieu, a pioneer in special education. Mathieu, together with Jean Vanier (founder of L’Arche Communities), is also founder of the Fire and Light movement for the spiritual assistance of the disabled and their families.

«Your presence,» the Holy Father told the group, «invites me to appeal once again in an urgent manner to all people of good will, especially government leaders and legislators, to have a heightened awareness and humanity so that all human life is protected, especially that of the weakest, the smallest and the poorest, and to halt all actions aimed at eliminating conceived and unborn children, who are defenseless, with man thus making himself the master of life.»

«To strike the little ones is, in a certain sense, to strike our own humanity, as there is among all the same fraternity and the same solidarity,» he said.

The Pope thanked his guests for the care they give «to persons suffering from some disability.»

«You remind people that the person is not reduced to his aptitudes and place in economic life, but rather is a creature of God, loved by him for himself, not for what he does,» he said.

The objective of the Christian Office of the Disabled, which arose in France in 1963, is to study and apply all initiatives that contribute to the well-being, and social and ecclesial integration of the sick or disabled.

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