Inclusion matters for people of all abilities and the Church must take a truly pastoral view that embraces our total community, Bishop Terry Brady said on International Day of People with Disability, celebrated worldwide on 3 December 2015.
This year’s theme is ‘Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities’.
Bishop Brady, Bishops Delegate to the Australian Catholic Council for Disability, said, ‘It is appropriate that we observe and celebrate the International Day of People with Disability as we prepare during the Advent season for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The Church has taken this day as an opportunity to encourage a truly pastoral view that embraces our total community as the living Body of Christ’.
‘According to the 2011 National Church Life survey figures there are 267,711 Catholics with disability in Australia. These people face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society, including our parish communities. As a result, people with disabilities do not enjoy access to our faith communities on an equal basis with others.
‘It is important that people with hidden disability are included in all aspects of our faith communities. The International Day can be used to draw attention to the situation for people with invisible disabilities, such as mental health and psychosocial disabilities, intellectual disabilities, as well as hearing impairments.’
Access and empowerment is essential for people of all abilities, Bishop Brady continued. ‘Parish communities need every person to be part of the worshipping body. A Parish is not complete or whole unless it includes, nurtures, and rejoices in each of its members. Parishes are called to be communities that gladly and authentically welcome people with disability and their families to life of the Church.’
Bishop Brady commended the many parishes that have already taken up the challenge and call to be more inclusive communities. ‘There is still much more we can do, as the Body of Christ, to promote the value of people with disability. We, as Church, need to actively invite and welcome all; for when we include everybody in the Body of Christ, we will then be truly one.’
Marking the international day, the Australian Catholic Disability Council has published new accessibility guidelines for Church organisations that host conferences and events. The Council also published a new easy read version of the United Nations International Agreement on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
Bishop Brady’s message for International Day of People with Disability is available on the ACBC Disability website. A YouTube video of Bishop Brady’s message with Auslan interpretation is also published on the ACBC Disability webpage.
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