Vatican to Focus on Hearing Impaired

Health Care Council Presents International Conference

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ROME, SEPT. 1, 2009 ( The Vatican recognizes that people with hearing impairments have much to offer the Church, and will stop to consider this contribution during a November conference.

Officials from the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry presented their 24th international conference to Benedict XVI last Wednesday after the general audience, L’Osservatore Romano reported today. The theme, drawn in part from Mark 7:34, is «Ephphata! The Deaf in the Life of the Church.»

During the presentation, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the health care dicastery, explained that the purpose of the conference is «to offer an opportunity to the Church to appreciate the contribution of deaf people in the various areas of apostolate.»

Among the participants will be Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool, Great Britain, president of the International Catholic Foundation for the Service of Deaf Persons.

Also present will be the past two presidents of the Vatican’s health care council: , Cardinals Javier Lozano Barragán and Fiorenzo Angelini.

The congress will reflect, on one hand, on the medical, psychological and social aspects of deafness and, on the other, on the pastoral needs of this group.

Specialists from around the globe will contribute, as will catechists, priests, families and volunteers dedicated to the pastoral care of the deaf.

Among them will be Spanish Father Jaime Gutiérrez Villanueva, a priest of St. Mary of Silence church in Madrid, a parish created in 1973 by two deaf priests and a dozen faithful with this impairment.

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