Monday, December 12, 2011

Physically Disabled in the Church

The chairman for the United Handicapped Groups in the Incheon diocese, in his interview with the Catholic Times,says that church facilities for handicapped have improved a lot, but we still have discrimination toward those who are disabled.

From the age of four, the chairman has not been able to walk because of infantile paralysis. After many operations and therapy, and with the aid of crutches, he walks but with difficulty. He has received second level government recognition as a craftsman in precious metals and is working as a dental technician, but is still aware of being discriminated against, he says, both in society and in the church.

In the past, when facilities for the handicapped were rare, it was difficult for the handicapped to go to Mass. However, when a person with disabilities was seen standing before the stairs leading to the church, there would usually be some Christian there asking if they could help; now it is rare that someone would approach them, asking to help.

In the early days when there was no help from the diocese, the different groups of the disabled in the diocese would go to the parishes to sell tickets for  their plays and events. There would be those who would be helpful but many who would look at us coolly, the chairman recalls. Now, with the financial aid from the diocese, he went on to explain, we have the necessary funds to have our events, but when we go to the different parishes to announce our programs, the priests and office-help find it difficult to react naturally with us, and sometimes refuse to make our programs known to the Christians.

Since 1998, all new buildings must have facilities for the handicapped. This has made a big difference but the deaf and blind still need help to participate in the sacramental life of the church. At Mass, the handicapped usually sit up front. For some of the handicapped it is necessary that they have help at the offertory and at communion; without the help, they are lost on what to do.

With the proliferation of facilities for the handicapped, he tactfully observed, this should cause a change in the care for the disabled within the Church, adding that he hopes the disabled Christians will be more active in approaching, with respect and love, other members of the community, as Jesus did when with us on earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment