-- Catholic News Agency
Pope Calls For 'Culture Of Encounter' Towards Disabled
VATICAN CITY, June 11 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Highlighting the spiritual gift of faith seen in Jesus' healing of the blind, Pope Francis encouraged an 'active participation' of the disabled in society.
"The Gospels tell us that Jesus had a particular care for the blind," the Pope said on June 11. "Besides other sick persons, He healed many blind persons. But the healing of a visually impaired person has special symbolic meaning: it represents the gift of faith."
Speaking in an audio message to the Italian Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Holy Father explained that Christ's healings are "a sign that concerns us all because we all need the light of faith to walk along the path of life."
"This is why Baptism, which is the first Sacrament of Faith, was also called 'illumination' in antiquity."
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis prayed that each member of the association be granted a renewed faith, filled with "the light of love that makes sense of our lives, illuminates it, gives us hope, and makes us good and available to our brothers and sisters."
"I also wish the best for your association," he said, encouraging them to "spread a culture of encounter, solidarity and hospitality towards persons with disabilities, not just asking for the proper social services but also encouraging their active participation in society."
The Pope's message was sent for the association's summer program in Le Torri Centre in Tirrenia, Italy, which specializes in rehabilitation studies and is currently hosting around 75 people, mostly elderly.
"I know that ... some of you wanted to come to Rome," the Holy Father said. "Thanks to modern technology, I can come to you!"
Asking for their prayers, he entrusted them to the protection of the Virgin Mary and offered them his blessing.
"Thank you for your appreciation, for your affection, and especially for your prayers," he said.
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