Inclusion of People with Disabilities in the Churchgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic Pages Forum : One Thread
What is the Catholic Church's position on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Church? Can someone with a disability such as epilepsy, mental illness or a physical disability such as being blind, deaf or wheel chair dependent, be a priest?
Similary, can someone with mental retardation, autism or other developmental disabilities be Confirmed?
I am grateful for any assistance you can provide me in answering these questions. Thank you!
-- Anonymous, May 20, 1998
I keep meaning to check my Code of Canon Law for the references when I go home, but I've been really busy at work.
I think you'll find that there may be difficulties with someone who has intellectual disabilities becoming a priest, because they must have a degree in theology.
As for receiving sacraments that require the recipient to have attained the "age of reason", this is also a difficult situation. I have never really looked at this very closely because I haven't known anyone in this situation, but I have heard (and will willingly be corrected if I'm wrong) that with First Communion, as long as the person can understand that the host is not ordinary bread but is Christ, then they may receive. Confirmation, I'm not sure of. Confirmation assumes sufficient use of reason to voluntarily reaffirm for oneself the promises made on your behalf by your parents at baptism.
If there are any priests reading these messages, your own pastoral experience would be interesting to add to these comments! (Hint!)
God bless, Paul McLachlan Webmaster, catholic-pages.com
-- Anonymous, May 23, 1998
A good place to look for the answers to this is at Jean Vanier's L'Arche Canada web page. He has been establishing communities where the mentally handicapped and so called normal people live as equals and was working with different Doicese's on involving them in the Mass. From experience even the lowest functioning can understand more than we think and they have souls which means they need Christ both in baptism and in the Eucharist. I believe they should be included depending on thier abilities as greeters, ushers, in the mass itself. The handicapped are not second rate citizens who we should feel sorry for and I lament the fact that most churches have nothing for the disabled in their midst and in the community except charity.
-- Anonymous, June 04, 1998