Dear Friends in Christ,
It is appropriate that we observe and celebrate the International Day of People with Disability as we prepare during the Advent season for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The theme this year is,
“Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”
This theme notes the recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of these goals in building a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.
According to the Pastoral Research office there are 267 711 Catholics with disability in Australia. It is well documented that people with disability in Australia are more likely to experience poverty, live in insecure housing, and have low levels of education and employment. People with disability are overrepresented in our prison system. People with disability are among the most oppressed people in our world
Society tends to portray disability as a burden and we have seen this demonstrated in recent discussions about euthanasia and the deaths of the young family in Davidson. Some of these comments are often based on discriminatory assumptions regarding disability and quality of life.
Our society values competition, perfectionism and individualism. If we hope to raise awareness of the dignity and rights of people with disability and the moral questions it raises, then we must value and support our brothers and sisters who live with disability. We must become a loving and inclusive Church where life is celebrated and limitations supported. The Church then can take the lead in forging a new value system in our society where everyone is valued, welcomed and precious, instead of reflecting the current culture of death so prevalent in today’s world.
As the Body of Christ there is much we can do to promote the value of people with disability.
I invite you to consider using the materials and the resources available at catholic.org.au/disability to promote and recognise the gifts of people with disability and to celebrate International Day of People with Disability, which is observed on the third day of December each year.
Thank you again for your support in this most important endeavour.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Bishop Terence J Brady,
Bishops’ Delegate for Disability Issues
Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference