Church Access for Persons with Disabilities


Catholic Teachings, Practical Suggestions and Resources

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Church Statements

1)  U.S. Bishops:

Pastoral Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities, November 16, 1978 
The 1978 statement has been updated since the original writing to reflect more acceptable language.  Every 10 years the Bishops have published an updated statement on persons with disabilities in the church. 

Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities, A Framework of Access and Inclusion. A Statement of the U.S. Bishops, 1999.
The 20th anniversary statement  published in 1999 is most interesting because it summarizes the church’s beliefs about people with disabilities into 10 short statements.  This is short and to the point.  This would make a great handout at a presentation.

Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities
This is a good pastoral guide that combines Canon Law, Sacramental Theology and common sense into a pastoral statement on celebrating the Sacraments with persons with disabilities.
Reprinted with permission of the National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities.  Visit them at

2)  Vatican Statements

The Pope since 1970 (at least) has made numerous statements that included a mention of persons with disabilities.  The fact is that statements that are specifically for or about persons with disabilities are getting rarer and rarer.  This is a good thing.  It means that persons with disabilities are being spoken of as part of all people.

Please note that the wording may not be to our liking.  Remember that these were written in a different time and in a different country.  Seek the meaning and do not be concerned with the format of the message.

You can do your own search of Vatican statements that refer to persons with disabilities.
Visit the search page of the Vatican website by clicking on
Vatican Website

Vatican Statements that may interest you are:

December 3, 2000
You could call this the Catholic Church's version of the 1998 statement issued by the United Nations' Human Rights Commission.  Here the church presents its own Universal Declaration on Human Rights, specifically how this pertains to persons with disabilities. 
If you are interested in the church's position on the place of persons with disabilities' place in society you really should read this statement.

The wording and some of the concepts are a little archaic .... and, remember, the Pope is addressing the world not just the United States and, add to that, the original document was written in Italian or Latin....but, if you can overlook these items.... This 1999 document is interesting in the advise given for the integration of persons with disabilities into society.  Its important theology is the church's belief that "disabilities" is not a punishment and that persons with disabilities are made in the image of God as they are.  Great theology is presented here and very important concepts that our society does not truly follow.








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Last Update to this page was March 15, 2011

Copyright © 2006 Dennis C. McNulty