GCSPD 4-8: General Principles, Part 2

Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities proper begins with eight paragraphs laying out “General Principles.” While parish staffs are urged to reach out to everyone, including people outside of family living situations, (Cf. GCSPD 4) the pastor is cited as “responsible to provide evangelization, catechetical formation, and sacramental preparation for parishioners with disabilities.” (Ibid. 5, which itself cites canon 777.4)

Clergy are not to be left alone and without resources, though many dioceses have had to contract support staff in the last few decades. Still, there are experts outside the Church available in many communities. The first choice, the document reminds us in paragraph 5 is an integration of people into mainstream catechesis and sacramental prep.

Once people have received the sacraments, the parish effort isn’t yet complete. The mission of the baptized is primarily to witness to Christ in the world and to evangelize. Paragraph 6 reflects more of an old-school model, though. It cites liturgical ministry before the mandate of Matthew 28:19-20 or Mark 16:15.

Paragraph 7 describes the ideal of “a fully accessible parish (reaching) beyond mere physical accommodation to encompass the attitudes of all parishioners toward persons with disabilities.” Key here is “attitude.” Do ordinary Catholics see persons differently abled as objects of the works of mercy, or partners in service and ministry? The documents mention “informational materials,” but the example of leaders will either float or sink the effort.

One last paragraph concludes the introductory section:

Difficult situations may be encountered by those making pastoral decisions. Dioceses are encouraged to establish appropriate policies for handling such instances, which respect the rights of all involved, and which ensure the necessary provision of evaluation and recourse. (8)

Ideally, situations in a parish are guided by a sense of optimism in the human person, and a trust in the efficacy of the sacraments.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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