Pope Francis exchanges a greeting with a young man with a disability Pope Francis exchanges a greeting with a young man with a disability  (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis: Jesus loves people with disabilities just as they are

Pope Francis sends a message to a Study Day on people with disabilities, and urges everyone to love and care for them just as Jesus does.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis has called for loving and caring for people who suffer from mental illness, and reassured them that Jesus loves them just as they are.

The Holy Father did so in a message sent Saturday to participants in a study day on "Siblings: sisters and brothers in disability and mental illness" which was held at the Sala Troisi in the Roman neighbourhood of Trastevere and organised by the L'Arche Community in Italy, which cares for people with neurodevelopmental disorders. 

No person is alone

The Pope expressed his great pleasure to greet the "beautiful initiative," and reflected on the word "siblings."

"I did not know this word," he said, "but I am well aware of the phenomenon it signifies," namely that for better or worse, "no person is alone" and lives within a network of relationships.

Disability, he acknowledged, impacts the entire family.

"The healthy sibling of a brother or sister with disabilities," he said, "finds himself or herself being like Simon from Cyrene who was forced by the guards to carry Jesus' cross for a long stretch of the path toward Calvary."

A sibling, the Pope continued, "is a person whom life has forced to be a Cyrenian," and the stretch of road travelled by this "Cyrenian brother." 

“He will have to share and carry the cross of the other, of his own brother or sister, in whom Jesus is hidden.”

God loves us just as we are

Jesus is never ashamed of us, the Pope stressed, saying the Lord makes our problems His own.

“Jesus loves us just as we are, with our talents and with our frailties and disabilities.”

Pope Francis concluded by extending his best wishes for the Study Day's good and fruitful work, hoping that it will be a seed capable of bearing much fruit.

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18 February 2023, 15:15