UPDATE: See this post for the full passages on disability from the recent papal document on marriage/family.
I made my leap into public writing when Pope Benedict stepped down and Pope Francis was elected. Both events had strong medieval tendrils and, for awhile, much of the rest of the press kept being confused what Francis was saying. As a medievalist, I seemed to have a head start.
It’s not my natural beat, though. I’m not a Catholic and I’m not truly expert in the machinations of the 21st century church (unlike the 13th century church, where I either am expert or I know the right experts to ask). Eventually, the press caught up or hired experts (Candida Moss, Elizabeth Bruenig, etc), and I moved off into both higher ed and disability journalism.
This morning @Pontifex tweeted, in a string of tweets about the family (and in the broader context of papal pronouncements about family, about divorce, and other topics):
People with disabilities are a gift for the family and an opportunity to grow in love, mutual aid and unity.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 9, 2016
Although the word “mutual” is intriguing, in general this point directly to the charity model of disability. Disabled people are here objectified as an object to demonstrate the virtue of the (presumed) abled family.
In other words, this isn’t really helping.
Right now, in Illinois, a major Catholic charity is claiming that it deserves funding under the rubric “community,” despite the fact that it’s clearly an institutional setting. I’ll write more about that, I hope, in the weeks and months to come.
Published work on the papacy:
- The canonizations of Popes John-Paul II and John XXIII (CNN.com, 7/5/2013)
- Pope Francis’ Wager (Atlantic.com, 5/24/2013)
- The Cardinal and the Prime Minister (Atlantic.com, 5/17/2013)
- The Importance of Being Francis (Atlantic.com, 3/14/2013)
- History and the Papal Election: Thoughts for a Sede Vacante (Atlantic.com, 3/12/2013)
- Pope Benedict XVI and Pope St. Celestine V (CNN.com, 2/12/2013)