Conclusions of Vatican Congress on the Deaf

«Herald and Witness of the Proclamation of the Gospel»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 7, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the executive conclusions adopted by the Congress on the Pastoral Care of the Deaf entitled «Ephphata! The Deaf Person, Herald and Witness of the Proclamation of the Gospel,» which ended Sunday in the Vatican.
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At the end of this Congress on Pastoral Care, entitled «Ephphata! The Deaf Person, Herald and Witness of the Evangelical Proclamation,» organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, the instruments were defined for the realization of some priorities in the ambit of the integration of deaf persons in ecclesial life and more generally in society.

In this second stage of the dicastery’s commitment to those affected by deafness, recommendations were received and began to be implemented which arose at the end of the International Conference «Ephphata! The Deaf Person in the Life of the Church,» held last November in the Vatican. This result was obtained thanks to the active participation and support of exponents of the pontifical council and of other Vatican offices, of the Italian episcopal conference and of the dioceses of Rome, Bari, Brescia, Foggia, Chieti, Crotone, Padua, Patti, Vicenza, Bologna, Palermo, Sulmona, Aquila, Imperia, Agrigento, Teramo, Assisi, Florence, Foligno, Frosinone, Salerno, Milan, Trani, Modena, Tursi-Lagonegro, Venice, Messina, Perusa, Terni, Rimini and Pordenone. Added to them are the religious personnel, specialists and volunteers. A great contribution was also made by the representatives of the Church in America, Spain, Ireland, and Germany, who came to Rome for the Congress.
These are, in synthesis, the priorities and instruments delineated during these working days:
1. To offer local and particular churches the instruments to begin to work «for and with» deaf persons, beginning both from specific elements for pastoral programming as well as multimedia subsidies. Among the latter, visual DVDs, which contain the translation in sign language, which will be used as an aid in the course of formation and participation in the life of the ecclesial community.
2. To take care and spread with particular commitment the «formation of formators,» in the first place of future priests, of religious personnel and of all pastoral agents.
3. As it emerged in this congress, it is considered of essential importance that, for example, in seminaries it be possible to come close to the reality of deaf people by learning: the basis of sign language, their historical and personal experience, that is, the difficulties they meet in society and in school, as well as in the Church. Such an outline of formation, with the due adaptations, can be used everywhere.
4. To make permanent, in the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, the study group announced during the international conference. This organism will make possible the necessary qualities and uniformity of work carried out in this realm.
5. To create an Internet reference space, useful for the diffusion of initiatives, as well as for communication and exchange among those who work in the pastoral care of deaf persons.
6. To promote an ad hoc certification for those in the ecclesial realm translating into sign language. It is considered essential that a distinction be made between the «translator» and the «facilitator.» The latter must have sufficient religious competencies to enable him to follow correctly, for example, the course of a Eucharistic liturgy, the course of the religious function.
Finally, all the participants in the congress committed themselves to see that these operative conclusions are quickly made concrete, in response to what has been requested by merit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and recalled during the opening of the works of this congress by the president of the dicastery, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski.
Vatican City, June 6, 2010
 [Translation by ZENIT]

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