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Pope Francis holds meeting with disability campaigner

By Sarah Mac Donald - 12 January, 2014

Italian MP highlights lack of support for parents and siblings of the disabled.

Italian MP and disability rights campaigner, Ileana Argentin.

Italian MP and disability rights campaigner, Ileana Argentin.

Pope Francis met with Italian disability campaigner, Ileana Argentin, on Saturday morning in the Vatican.

Ms Argentin is well-known as a disability campaigner in the city of Rome, where she has lobbied as a member of the City Council, as well as in the Italian parliament.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Vatican spokesman, Fr Frederico Lombardi, said the Italian MP had requested a meeting with the Pontiff in a personal letter in which she raised a number of issues in relation to those with disabilities.

Ms Argentin is herself confined to a wheelchair.

Pope Francis “promptly replied” to her request and invited her to come and meet him and that meeting took place yesterday at the Apostolic Palace for half an hour.

During the meeting, the MP focused principally on the importance of supporting the parents of seriously disabled people, who live with great anxiety over what may happen to their children after their own deaths.

She also highlighted the difficulties which the siblings of those who are disabled may encounter in taking up the responsibility of care.

1_0_763173According to Fr Lombardi, the meeting also touched on other issues, such as the need to overcome barriers of accessibility to disabled people in public and Church buildings.

“Pope Francis showed great interest in all these issues,” Fr Lonbardi said.

The Pontiff also assured his “participation and encouragement for all people and campaigns working with increasing dedication to challenge problems relating to disability,” the Vatican spokesman said.

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