“Inclusion begins in our hearts. It begins with affirmation. We should open our hearts to one another and recognize the strengths of every person…
When we open our hearts and our community to the gifts each person brings,
we are all strengthened.”
~ Joseph Cardinal Bernadin,
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
The Catholic Church acknowledges that all people are made in the image of God, and further that all baptized people share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Jesus Christ. In affirming this, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the Pastoral Statement on Persons with Disabilities, which calls for the integration and fuller participation of people with disabilities into parish life.
The purpose of the department for Pastoral Ministry with Persons with Disabilities is to affirm the integrity of the Baptismal promise of people with disabilities and to work for their inclusion in the life and mission of the Church at the parish level, by working collaboratively with parish leadership. It does this through: Education, Advocacy, Affirmation, and Collaboration. This includes people with intellectual, physical and vision disabilities.
Affirmation of the dignity and worth of the human person is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching, which supports life at all stages.
 CCC 705, 1702; (1985 Code of Canon Law, Canon 204)
 Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities, (Washington, DC: USCCB, 1978; rev. ed, 2002).