ROME — “We are called to recognize in every person with a disability, even with complex and serious disabilities, a unique contribution to the common good,” Pope Francis said Tuesday.
To mark the World Day for Persons with Disabilities, the pope issued a message saying there is no such thing as first- and second-class citizens, since a people’s human dignity does not depend on how healthy or productive they are.
“On the anniversary of the World Day of Persons with Disabilities, we renew our gaze of faith that sees in every brother and sister the presence of Christ himself, who considers every gesture of love for one of our least brothers as made for himself,” the pope said.
As he has done on other occasions, Francis called for the promotion of the rights of disabled persons as well as for an end to “discrimination” of every sort against them.
The pope has been a vocal opponent of abortion of the disabled, repeatedly denouncing the “eugenic tendency” behind eliminating unborn babies with handicaps, which reveals a “narcissistic and utilitarian vision.”
“Proof of it is the eugenic tendency to suppress the unborn who have some form of imperfection,” he said in an address in 2017.
As Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates continue pushing for abortion-on-demand, including the killing of unborn children because they are suspected of having genetic anomalies such as Down syndrome, the pope has pushed for recognition of the equal rights of all, born and unborn.
“I was thinking about the custom of doing away with babies before they’re born, this horrendous crime,” Francis has said. “They do away with them because it’s easier like that, because it’s more comfortable. It’s a great responsibility—a very grave sin.”
“We are called to defend and safeguard human life, especially in the mother’s womb, in infancy, old age and physical or mental disability,” he said.
Part of this defense of the unborn means welcoming children as they are, regardless of whatever genetic abnormalities they may have, as true gifts from God.
“Children are to be received as they come, as God sends them,” he said. “I have heard that it is typical during the first months of pregnancy to do tests on the baby and if the child is not well or has something wrong we do away with it.”
“We do as the Nazis did to safeguard the purity of the race, but we do it with ‘white gloves,’” he said.
The Nazi party began its eugenics program in 1933, requiring German doctors to register all genetically related illnesses with the state, including mental retardation, schizophrenia, manic-depression, blindness, deafness, and other severe physical deformities.
In his message Tuesday, the pope also warned about devaluing the lives of the elderly, making them feel more like a burden than cherished members of society.
“And let’s not forget the many ‘hidden exiles’ that live within our homes, our families, our societies,” Francis said. “I am thinking of people of all ages, especially the elderly, who, also because of their disability, are sometimes felt as a burden, as an ‘awkward presences,’ and risk being discarded.”
“I encourage all those who work with people with disabilities to continue in this important service and commitment, which determines the degree of civilization of a nation,” he said.