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Celebrating imperfection

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Celebrating imperfection

“€œCelebrating imperfection”€, because no
disabled person should be discriminated against, is the founding idea of
LArche (The Ark), founded by Jean Vanier in 1964. And it was also the main
theme of the visit Pope Francis made to the community “€œIl Chicco”€ in Ciampino
on Friday afternoon, 13 May.

the Jubilee initiative of “€œMercy Fridays”€, the Pope went to the cusp of Rome to
spend about an hour and a half with 18 patients with severe intellectual
disabilities and volunteers of two family-homes called the “€œVineyard”€ and the
“€œOlive Tree”€. Arriving close to 5 pm, Francis went to bear witness against the
throw-away culture. No one should be
deprived of love, joy and dignity just because they have intellectual
disabilities, just as no one should be discriminated against because of
prejudices that marginalize people. The great L”€™Arche family is dedicated to
this mission of service to society”€™s weak and marginalized. L”€™Arche, in
association with the Faith and Light organization, is present in over 30
countries throughout the world. People with severe disabilities are welcomed
into the family-homes, where they feel accepted and are able to be protagonists
of their life. The homey atmosphere allows for the discovery of their
sensitivities, their deep affection and their need for friendship.

was able to experience these very sentiments in Ciampino, where he spent a
peaceful afternoon in a family atmosphere of joy and sharing. Accompanied on
the visit by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council
for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the Pontiff brought pastries and
seasonal fruit, and sat at the table for a snack with those present. He was
moved as he listened to the simple words of greeting from several guests of the
home: Nadia, Salvatore, Vittorio, Paolo, Maria Grazia, Danilo. He also paid a
visit to the seriously ill, offering them gestures of profound affection and
tenderness, particularly to Armando and Fabio who were among the first to be
welcomed in 1981 when the first L”€™Arche structure opened in Italy. There is now
a second in Bologna, and a third is expected to open soon in Sardegna.

to Vanier”€™s insight, the lives of people with disabilities should include
manual tasks appropriate to their individual capacities. Thus Pope Francis also
visited the artisans”€™ workshop, where each day small objects are created,
expressing the creativity and imagination of the members of Il Chicco. After
posing for photographs with each of them “€” some of whose faces showing tears of
excitement “€” and, holding hands with them, Francis prayed in the small chapel.
A song typical of the community preceded the recitation of an Our Father, a Hail
Mary, a Glory Be and a Prayer for Eternal Rest for friends who are deceased, or
“€” as they say in the home “€” who are in “€œthe Ark in heaven”€, as the director,
Marco Veronesi, explained.

Chicco receives few regional subsidies, while most of the aid necessary for
they assistance it provides is entrusted to Providence. Thus, before bidding
farewell, Pope Francis left a personal contribution. The community”€™s
administrators thanked him and expressed their hope that he would come again.
“€œWe need you”€, they said, to which Francis replied: “€œHere you have touched my

this visit the Pontiff expressed one of the salient features of his ministry:
attention to the simplest and weakest people. Bringing them his tenderness and
affection, he wanted to give a tangible sign of how we can live the Year of
Mercy, which as of 12 May, has brought more than 7 million pilgrims to Rome for
Jubilee events. That of 13 May was the 5th of Francis”€™ “€œMercy Friday”€
initiative for the Jubilee Year: in January he went Torre Spaccata on the
outskirts of Rome, to a care home for the elderly and another for patients
living in a vegetative state; in February, he met with a community of
recovering addicts in Castel Gandolfo; in March and April the initiative
coincided respectively with Holy Thursday, when he washed the feet of refugees
in the CARA reception centre of Castelnuovo di Porto, and his journey among the
refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos.


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