By Vatican News staff writer
As the world marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) holds an online initiative to create community amongst various Church organizations and those they assist.
The event is promoted by the CEI’s National Service for the Pastoral Care of Persons with Disabilities, and includes moments of prayer, reflection, and testimony.
“The Prophecy of Fraternity” kicks off with an online Mass celebrated in the Diocese of Città del Castello, broadcast in Italian Sign Language.
Later in the afternoon, the conference is split into two parts: one focused on Italy and another held on an international scale, broadcast in International Sign Language and in various other languages.
Signs of hope
According to Sister Veronica Donatello, who heads up the organizing committee, the initiative arose out of the needs of Church leaders as they seek to remain close to persons with disabilities during the pandemic.
“It often happens during this period that persons with disabilities are viewed as the objects of care and attention, which is right but is not the whole story,” she said. “They can also be subjects and protagonists.”
Sister Donatello added that the online event seeks to give them a platform so that they can share their experience and hopes.
Pastoral care during the pandemic
“The Prophecy of Fraternity” event sees the contribution of several Church leaders, including Bishop Stefano Russo, the Secretary General of the CEI, and Cardinal José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, archivist of the Vatican Apostolic Archive.
Various persons with disabilities also offer reflections on how they have experienced the Church’s pastoral care during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
These reflections cover topics from hand-washing to caring for others and from social distancing to nearness.
An English-language flyer for the event can be found here.