47. The Fathers also called particular attention to “families of persons with special needs, where the unexpected challenge of dealing with a disability
can upset a family’s equilibrium, desires and expectations… Families who lovingly accept the difficult trial of a child with special needs are greatly to be admired. They render the Church
and society an invaluable witness of faithfulness to the gift of life. In these situations, the family can discover, together with the Christian community, new approaches, new ways of acting, a
different way of understanding and identifying with others, by welcoming and caring for the mystery of the frailty of human life. People with disabilities are a gift for the family and an opportunity to grow in love, mutual aid and unity… If the family, in the light of the faith, accepts the presence of persons with special needs, they will be able to recognize and ensure the quality and value of every human life, with its proper needs, rights and opportunities. This approach will promote care and services on behalf of these disadvantaged persons and will encourage people to draw near to them and provide affection at every stage of their life”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 21)
In some ways, every family engages significant struggles. Or engages in retreat from them. Those who do not retreat are often an example for other families in the community. Opening that conversation, “How do you manage?” And for families that treat special needs, being open to that question, and willing to share.
Pope Francis suggests a widening of the “special needs” perspective:
Here I would stress that dedication and concern shown to migrants and to persons with special needs alike is a sign of the Spirit. Both situations are paradigmatic: they serve as a test of our commitment to show mercy in welcoming others and to help the vulnerable to be fully a part of our communities.
Do you agree? Is our culture being tested? Our Church and our parish communities? Comment, as you wish.
For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.