This morning, the Vatican released a message sent by Pope Benedict XVI calling for disabled individuals--whom he said, possess the same full human dignity, worth, and rights as all human beings-- to be completely and compassionately inserted into society at large.
The Pope’s message was sent to Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, who is Archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia and president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, as the Brazilian Church celebrates their annual Lenten Fraternity Campaign.
In the Holy Father’s message, which was written in Portuguese, Benedict writes that the theme of this year's campaign - "Fraternity and Disabled People" - "promotes reflection and is an encouragement to renew the commandment to charity with greater force, especially towards people suffering some form of disability."
He continued however, saying that what is needed, is not simply "an attitude of tenderness and consolation," but the complete insertion into society of these "our brothers and sisters in Christ."
The Pope said that "even when the problems [of disabled people] touch their minds or their sensorial and intellective capacities, they remain fully human, with the sacred and inalienable rights that belong to humans.”
“Indeed,” he pointed out, “human beings, irrespective of the conditions in which they live and of the capacities they are capable of expressing, possess unique and extraordinary worth from the very beginning of their existence to the moment of natural death."
In his conclusion, Pope Benedict encouraged all people to “assume the dignity that God wished for us - which is an intrinsic part of this life.”
He particularly said that this means “adopting attitudes of commitment, at times heroic and worthy of eternal reward, not only for those who undergo such suffering, but also for those who help the most needy."