VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of the 24th international conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The theme of this year's gathering is "Effata! Deaf people in the life of the Church", and the event is due to be held in the Vatican's New Synod Hall from 19 to 21 November.
Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, Bishop Jose L. Redrado O.H. and Msgr. Jean-Marie Mpendawatu, respectively president, secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care; Fr. Savino Castiglione of the Congregation "Little Mission for the Deaf", and Marco Radici, director of the ENT unit of the Hospital of St. John of God "Fatebenefratelli" in Rome.
There are 278 million people in the world who suffer from hearing impairment, of whom 59 million are profoundly deaf. Eighty percent of deaf people live in the less-developed areas of the planet. It is also estimated that there are around 1.3 million deaf people in the Catholic Church who, Archbishop Zimowski explained, "face particular difficulties in participating fully in religious practices".
The forthcoming conference - which will be attended by 498 people, 89 of whom are deaf - arises from the need to promote and improve commitment in this field of disability in order "to achieve true integration for deaf people", he said.
"According to the timetable", the archbishop continued, "the three days of the meeting will be subdivided into sections focusing on various aspects of deafness. The first day will examine the themes of: 'deaf people in the world, past and present'; 'the psychological world of deaf people'; the 'medical aspects of deafness', and 'experiences from the world of deafness'".
The second day, during which the participants will also be received by the Pope, will consider such themes as "the family and deaf people" and "pastoral care of the deaf".
The conference will come to an end on 21 November with a summarisation of the subjects discussed, roundtable discussions and the presentation of a final report.
Among those attending the conference will be Archbishop Patrick A. Kelly of Liverpool, England, and Terry O'Meara, respectively president and director of the International Catholic Foundation for the Service of Deaf Persons; Silvio P. Mariotti, an expert of the World Health Organisation, and Fr. Cyril Axelrod, a blind and deaf priest.
Also participating in the event will be Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan and Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, presidents emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, which is due to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its foundation on 11 February 2010.
OP/EFFATA/ZIMOWSKI VIS 20091117 (450)