Pope Francis Says People With Autism Carry a Cross; Stigma Must Be Broken Down

Makes Appeal for Needed Support, Acceptance, Solidarity

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Pope Francis says we need to break down the stigma of autism and is calling on government, institutions, and Christian communities to do so.

Speaking Saturday morning to the participants of a three-day conference held at the Vatican, he said support is needed to pay «due attention» to the rights, needs, and potential of those with autism, and that that support system must «always safeguard the dignity of every person.»

Titled “The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope,” the conference which gathered some 650 experts from nearly 60 countries, was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care. It ran Thursday through Saturday in the Vatican.

Speaking to hundreds of parents and children affected with autism, the Holy Father began by thanking those who spoke on how it is live with autism for their “moving” and “meaningful” testimonies.

While saying autism spectrum disorders constitute “a fragility that affects numerous children and, consequently, their families,” the Pope said they represent an area “that appeal to the direct responsibility of governments and institutions, without of course forgetting the responsibility of Christian communities.”

By promoting acceptance, encounter and solidarity through «concrete support» and by «encouraging renewed hope,» he said, “we can contribute to breaking down the isolation and, in many cases, the stigma burdening people with autism spectrum disorders, and just as often their families.”

“This must not be an anonymous or impersonal accompaniment, but one of listening to the profound needs that arise from the depths of a pathology which, all too often,» he said, «struggles to be properly  diagnosed and accepted without shame or withdrawing into solitude, especially for families.»

«It is a Cross,” the Pope said.

With proper support, Francis said, families can start to “overcome the feelings, which can sometimes arise, of inadequacy, uselessness and frustration.”

Pope Francis concluded by encouraging academics and researchers to discover therapies and support tools, to help, heal, and prevent the onset of conditions early, and calling on those gathered to join him in praying the Hail Mary.


On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-autism-conference

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation