Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pope Francis

Autism Light #366 is Pope Francis.

Photo of Pope Francis

Pope Francis was born with the name Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17, 1936 in Argentina and he is the current head of the Catholic Church, holding the title of the Bishop of Rome. He has developed a reputation as a leader who genuinely cares about those who are less fortunate and have special needs. Pope Francis is an Autism Light for his outreach to those with autism in his role as the faith leader of over 1.2 billion worldwide members of the Catholic Church. Under his leadership the Vatican's health care office held the Catholic Church's first ever global gathering on autism on November 20-22, 2014. As part of this conference Pope Francis spoke about autism and met directly with persons with autism and their parents and doctors.

Michele Arbogast, a mother of a child with autism who works for Autism Speaks in New York, said about Pope Francis, "Pope Francis has changed the dynamics. He reaches out to those in need. Words from the Holy Father will reach the smallest villages, touch hearts, change minds and help people to volunteer and help other families (Religion News, November 21, 2014)."

Here is a video of Pope Francis speaking at the International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers which had as its theme this year, "The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope".  Pope Francis spoke to participants at the Persons with Autism Conference on Saturday, November 22, 2014.

The medical conference on autism sponsored by the Catholic Church that Pope Francis spoke at is said by organizers to be "the biggest medical conference of its kind on autism, gathering more than 650 experts from 57 countries (ABC News, November 18, 2014)." Thanks to technology the Pope's words will be heard throughout world and reach people around the world, having an especially influential impact on those who are part of the Catholic Church.

The Rev. P. Augusto Chenci of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers said that the reason Pope Francis spoke directly to those with autism at the conference was to "help break the isolation, and in many cases the stigma, that surrounds people affected by autism spectrum disorders (ABC News, November 18, 2014)."

The following are just two examples of some testimonies that were shared on Twitter about the positive impact Pope Francis is having in the lives of those with autism and their families.

Social Media: You can follow Pope Francis on the following social media.
Special thanks to Pope Francis for all he is doing to raise awareness of autism in the Catholic Church around the world. His respectful treatment of individuals with autism is shining a light that those with autism can find a home in a faith community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo of Pope Francis is from Wikipedia Commons.

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