Pope's Address to the Members of the Community of Capodarco

‘A society that gives space only to fully functional persons, altogether autonomous and independent, would not be a society worthy of man’

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Below is a Zenit translation of Pope Francis’ address to members of the Community of Capodarco in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017:
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am happy about this meeting of ours, and happy for what I have heard, very happy, and I greet you all affectionately. My heartfelt thanks to Father Franco Monterubbianesi, Founder of your Community, and Father Vinicio Albanesi, current President, for their words, and I thank you who have given us your testimony.
The Community of Capodarco, articulated in numerous local realities, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. With you, I thank the Lord for the good carried out in these years at the service of disabled persons, minors, of all those who live in situations of dependence and of hardship, and of their families. You have chosen to be on the side of these less protected persons, to offer them hospitality, support and hope, in a dynamic of sharing. In this way you have contributed and you contribute to make society better.
The quality of life within a society is measured, to a great extent, by the capacity to include those who are the weakest and neediest, in effective respect of their dignity as men and women. And maturity is reached when such inclusion is not perceived as something extraordinary but normal. A person with physical, psychic or moral disabilities and frailties must be able to participate in the life of society and be helped to act his potentialities in their varied dimensions. Only if the rights of the weakest are recognized, can a society say that it is founded on law and justice. A society that gives space only to fully functional persons, altogether autonomous and independent, would not be a society worthy of man. Discrimination on the basis of efficiency is no less deplorable than that carried out on the basis of race, or wealth or religion.
In these decades, your community has listened constantly, attentively and lovingly to persons’ lives, making every effort to respond to the needs of each one, taking into account their capacities and their limitations. Your approach to the weakest surpasses the pietistic and welfare attitude, to foster leadership in a person with difficulties in a context not closed in on itself but open to society. I encourage you to continue in this way, which sees in the first place, the personal and direct action of the disabled themselves. In face of the economic problems and the negative consequences of globalization, your community seeks to help all those who are being tested to not feel themselves excluded or marginalized but, on the contrary, to walk in the front line, bringing the testimony of personal experience. It is about promoting the dignity and respect of every individual, making “life’s defeated” feel the tenderness of God, loving Father of every creature of His.
I want to thank you again for the testimony you give to society, helping it to discover ever more the dignity of all, beginning with the least, the most disadvantaged. The institutions, the associations and the various agencies of social promotion are called to foster the effective inclusion of these persons. You work for this purpose with generosity and competence, with the courageous help of families and volunteers who remind us of the meaning and value of every existence. By gathering all these “little ones,” marked by mental or physical impediments, or of wounds of the soul, you recognize in them particular witnesses of God’s tenderness, of whom we have much to learn and who also have a privileged place in the Church. In fact, their participation in the ecclesial community opens the way to simple and fraternal relations, and their filial and spontaneous prayer invites us all to turn to our heavenly Father.
Your association originated in pilgrimages to the Shrines of Lourdes and of Loreto, in which Father Franco intuited the way to be able to assess the human and spiritual resources innate in every person diversely able. In your activity, so precious for the Church and for society, the Virgin Mary has always accompanied you and continues to do so, helping you to find every time new energies and to keep always the style of the Gospel, tenderness, solicitude, closeness and also courage and a spirit of sacrifice, because it is not easy to work in the field of personal and social hardship.
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you again for your visit. I bless you and accompany you with my prayer. May your Community continue to walk with joy and hope. And you also, please pray for me. Thank you!
And I invite you to pray to our Mother, she who gives strength to mothers, to women, to you, and to all of us who work. [Hail Mary]
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]  

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