Pope Francis on April 25, 2019, received in audience — in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace –, the Members of the Italian Federation of Associations of the Deaf.
Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to those present at the audience.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Address
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
I greet you all affectionately, especially you, deaf persons, your relatives and friends present <here>. I thank the President for the words with which she introduced our meeting.
For some years your Federation has added some Associations that dedicate themselves, on the Italian territory, to address the throwaway culture, fostering in all environments greater inclusion. Such work is necessary to ensure a better quality of life for the deaf person and for surmounting this disability by valuing all the dimensions, including the spiritual, in an integral vision of man.
Deaf persons live inevitably a condition of fragility, and this forms part of life and can be accepted positively. What is not right is that they, like so many other persons with different capacities and their families, often live situations of prejudice, sometimes even in Christian communities, as the President also recalled. The cities, the countries, and the parishes, with their respective services, are called to overcome increasingly the barriers that do not permit to take up the potentiality of your active presence, going beyond your deficit. Instead, you teach us that only by inhabiting the imitation and fragility can we be builders — together with those responsible and with all members of the civil and ecclesial community –, of the culture of encounter, in opposition to the existing widespread indifference. Thus the society and the community can be improved and also offer deaf persons an existential fullness that takes into account all the aspects of life in its different phases.
In today’s cultural and social context you also, more than ever, are a gift in the Church: “In view of the Baptism received, every member of the People of God has become a missionary disciple. Each baptized person, regardless of his/her function in the Church and the degree of instruction in his/her faith, is an active subject of evangelization” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 120). Therefore, the presence of deaf persons among the pastoral agents, naturally formed in keeping with their inclinations and capacities, can really represent a resource and an occasion of evangelization. I earnestly hope that you also, either as single persons or at the associative level, will be able to take part ever more fully in the life of your ecclesial communities. Thus you will be able to rediscover and bring to fruition the talents that the Lord has given you, for the benefit of families and of the whole People of God.
God’s presence isn’t perceived with the ears but with faith. Therefore, I encourage you to revive your faith to be increasingly aware of God’s closeness,
whose voice resounds in each one’s heart, and all can hear it. Thus you’ll be able to help those that don’t “hear” God’s voice to be more attentive to it. This is a significant contribution that deaf persons can give to the vitality of the Church.
I’m thinking of the many deaf persons in Italy and in the world, especially those that live in conditions of marginalization and misery. I pray for them. And I pray for you so that you can bring your special contribution to society. Being capable of a prophetic look, able to accompany processes of sharing and inclusion, able to cooperate with the revolution of tenderness and of proximity. Your presence is also necessary in the Church to contribute to building communities that are welcoming and open to all, beginning with the last.
Thank you for this welcome visit. I encourage you to continue on your path joyfully and, while I ask you, please, to pray for me, I impart to you my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]