"I hope that in communities, people with disabilities may too be catechists, also by their witness, to transmit faith in a more effective way." -Pope Francis, Audience with the participants in the Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, Oct. 21, 2017
Persons with disabilities are members of our families, our communities, and our churches. We are enriched by the gift of their lives and their contributions. This is rooted in our Catholic social teaching's emphasis that all persons, of all abilities, are endowed with dignity and bear within them the Imago Dei.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says we are called to acknowledge in a special way the needs of those with disabilities: "The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor" (#2208). Furthermore, "Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible" (#2276).
Resources from the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD), including educational materials, ministry models, liturgical resources, and accessibility designs, may serve your parishioners and community members who have disabilities. The National Catholic Partnership on Disability was established in 1982 to implement in parishes and dioceses throughout the United States the 1978 Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities. NCPD is guided by the following mission:
Rooted in Gospel values that affirm the dignity of every person, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) works collaboratively to ensure meaningful participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of the life of the Church and society.
In accommodating congregants with disabilities, pastors fulfill the requirements of Canon 777 to ensure that catechetical instruction and appropriate opportunity for celebration of the sacraments are provided to all members of their parishes.
Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities (Revised Edition — Approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, June 15, 2017).
Other Resources and Links
Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities (originally issued by the USCCB in 1978).
Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities, A Framework of Access and Inclusion (issued by the USCCB in 1999).
THE PERSON WITH DISABILITIES: THE DUTIES OF THE CIVIL AND ECCLESIAL COMMUNITY (issued by the Vatican's Committee for the Jubilee Day of the Community with Persons with Disabilities in 2000).
CONCLUSIONS OF A VATICAN CONFERENCE ON THE FAMILY AND INTEGRATION OF THE DISABLED (issued from a conference initiated by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Special Family Education Centre (CEFAES) and the Leopold Programme, held from 2-4 December 1999).