OC 091 Religious Orders who accept those who we ‘consider’ disabled

New Religious Order open to disabled

Disabled nuns welcomed to serve at historic order

Resources for older or disabled discerners

The Church’s stance of valuing all life is an inspiration for people with disabilities. The basic human right, the right to life, is something that always seems to be under threat for people with disabilities. Currently it is believed that around 92% of unborn babies with certain disabilities are aborted every year. This is way above the percentage for able-bodied children aborted. What that means in essence is that if you’re about to be born with certain disabilities then the chances are you’ll be killed first, while if you’re about to be born able-bodied, then you will be born. Indeed some believe that many mothers, particularly young mothers, with an unborn disabled child, are viewing the child as similar to a mobile phone without the latest technical gizmo, such as a camera feature, or the latest trainers without the ‘essential’ number of air bubbles in the sole and therefore, as a result, are aborting the unborn disabled child on what could be termed ‘fashion grounds’. This ties in with Pope Benedict’s message that too many people today will settle only for the perceived ”perfect baby”. Like abortion, the Church also takes a strong stance on the issue of euthanasia and mercy killing, which seeks to deem the lives of disabled people as less worthy than those non-disabled and thus end them.

So on both these big topical life and death issues, the Catholic Church takes the stance of valuing the life of the disabled person, even if in many areas of modern secular society that isn’t the trendy and hip stance to have, and while that value on life may be taken for granted by able-bodied people, statistics prove it can’t be taken so easily by folk with disabilities. But it is not just in terms of Church teaching that inspiration is given to disabled people. Sometimes the inspiration comes not necessarily from the message itself but from people with disabilities within the Church who provide sound role models.

Perhaps the clearest example of this was the late Pope John Paul II – he clearly had his health problems and clearly ploughed on right to the very end, in the full gaze of the watching media, in the service of his people. It could even be argued, given his immense courage shown under such circumstances, that his latter years were the most inspirational of his entire reign as Pope. It is not just high up in the Vatican though where these inspirational figures can be found. You probably know such a figure in your own parish involved with the Church? Perhaps you’ve seen my nephew, who is a down syndrome young man; he is not defined by his disability, in fact, nobody in the family treats him as such.  He is graduating high school this year and have I TOLD you how proud I am of him.  He hasn’t let anything or anyone stop him from being who he is, a particularly witty & a heart-breaker!  So I am satisfied that he will be able to fulfill his dreams; and if they should ever be toward religious life–there is an order somewhere who would be ecstatic to receive him.

The medical model of thinking on disability says that people are disabled by their disability. The social model of thinking on disability says that people are disabled by society. For example, if a wheelchair user can’t get up a curb then medical model thinkers would say that’s because he/she can’t walk, while the social model thinkers would say it’s because the curb isn’t low enough. The Church, in terms of it’s teachings on core life and death issues and inspiration by example, does really well on disability. If it had to seek a way to continue its progress it would be to bear in mind, the social model thinking more, as I’d imagine it could be — more medical model thinking. At the very least an equal valuing of both models is a reasonable approach.


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