People with Disabilities

Dear Parishioners,

The last two weeks I spoke of Respect for Life. The first week
was on the broad range of areas and then I focused on Capital
Punishment last week. This week I would like to speak of people
with disabilities. I have counseled couples when they were faced
with the news of expecting a child that was at risk of disabilities.
The news itself was a shock. Compounding the emotions, they
were dumbfounded when their doctor asked if they wanted to
abort the baby since it would more than likely have disabilities.

Unborn children diagnosed with disabilities are at an extremely
high risk of being aborted because abortion is legal in America.
The thought of one life having a better value than another is absurd.  We went through this several times throughout history.
Here in America we had to deal with the issue of slavery where
one life was valued differently than another. During World War
II people who did not fit the Nazi party’s mold were forced to
hard labor and/or put to death. Many were experimented upon
medically and simply used as objects. We as Catholics BELIEVE
every life is a gift from God.

One of my best friends in grade school through junior college was
legally blind. Today Jeff is a professor and a single parent. I am
amazed at his strength and impressed by his great abilities.

Some receive their disabilities later in life. It may be from an
accident, a debilitating disease or simply the process of old age.
Millions of Americans who enjoyed perfect health earlier in their
lives, discover a bias in respect, treatment and dignity no longer
given to them.

When I meet with couples preparing for marriage I always tell
them about two images I have about love. One of them is of my
Grandpa Kaiser visiting my Grandma Kaiser in the nursing home.
The visits were always the same. During the five years Grandma
was in the nursing home, not rain not sleet or snow would keep
Grandpa from the woman he loved. He would always give Grandma a kiss  on the cheek, hold her hand and tell her that he loved
her. He would sit with her for a while. Then the routine would
continue in reverse with a pat on her hand as he left. I share with
the couple that love, genuine love, is not blocked by a few
pounds, scars, wrinkles or the loss of memory or ability to speak.

In his encyclical letter, The Gospel of Life, Blessed John Paul II
identified “the Heart of the tragedy being expressed in modern
man: the eclipse of the sense of God and of man.” In fact, “when
the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense
of man, of his dignity and his life.” Often Pope John Paul II reminded us that every person, no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society, everyone is a being of great worth created in the image and likeness of God!

When you see someone with disabilities treat them as if they are
Christ. Treat them as Jesus taught us. Treat them with love and
respect!!!

Fr. Gary