Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Upcoming Vatican conference focuses on role of the deaf in the church

Source Link - Upcoming Vatican conference focuses on role of the deaf in the church

In response to numerous requests for how the Catholic community could increase its attention toward the deaf, the Vatican has organized an upcoming conference focusing on the role of deaf people in the church.

The Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry decided to dedicate its annual international conference this year to the condition, needs and experiences of deaf people, including deaf religious and laypeople and their families.

The theme of the Nov. 19-21 Vatican gathering, "Ephphatha: Deaf People in the Life of the Church," recalls the Aramaic word meaning "be opened" that Jesus used to heal a deaf man.

The council said on its Web site that it wished "to respond to the numerous requests that we have received asking for the possibility of organizing a symposium" focusing on how the church could help raise awareness about the various situations faced by the deaf "so as to give them full dignity and respect of their rights."

The council's president, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, presented Pope Benedict XVI with the finalized program of the 24th international meeting during a private audience Aug. 26, reported the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

The conference hopes to "offer the church an opportunity to underline the contribution of the deaf in various fields of the apostolate, thus giving them full recognition of the significance of their work," the archbishop told the Vatican newspaper Sept. 1.

The meeting's aim is "to raise awareness and foster concrete and effective action in the church and society toward alleviating the disadvantages the deaf face," he said.

The U.S.- and U.K.-based International Catholic Foundation for the Service of Deaf Persons helped organize the event. Its president, Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool, England, and executive director, Terry O'Meara, were to participate at the conference.

Other speakers from around the world were to include religious and laypeople who are deaf, those who work with deaf people either in the church or in society, and people who are in charge of pastoral programs dealing with health care issues.

Talks were to look at the medical, psychological and social aspects of deafness as well as pastoral programs that foster the participation of the deaf in church life and the wider community, according to the council's Web site.